- About the Kaibab Squirrel
The tassel-eared, white bellied Abert's Squirrel, a large and heavy bodied squirrel is found in the Ponderosa pine forest throughout the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Its similar but less abundant sub-species, the Kaibab Squirrel is also tassel-eared but with a dark belly and a distinctive snowy-white tail. It is found only on the Kaibab Plateau of Arizona in the Ponderosa pine forests of the Grand Canyon National Park and the northern portion of the Kaibab National Forest.
The Kaibab Plateau was declared a "wildlife preserve" early in the 20th Century under President Theodore Roosevelt, meaning that wildlife and wildlife habitat needs would have priority over other resource uses. The Kaibab Squirrel was specifically mentioned as a unique species to be protected.
The Kaibab Squirrel's principal food is the tender bark from the terminal twigs of Ponderosa pine trees and also the succulent part of immature cones and seeds. They feed on sub-terrainian mushrooms from the forest floor and to some degree on pine needles.
Tree size and spacing are important components of the squirrel's habitat requirements. They typically nest as high as 40 feet above the ground. If trees are too far apart the squirrel is more vulnerable to predation from raptors such as the Goshawk. Specific habitat requirements are found in the Forest Plan for the Kaibab National Forest.