Mount Graham Red SquirrelRed squirrels are a common sight in wooded rural and suburban areas throughout the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada. Despite the disappearance of millions of acres of the woodlands they once inhabited, most types of squirrels have managed to thrive. Yet a few of these seed-loving rodents are now dangerously rare. The Mount Graham red squirrel of the Pinaleno Mountains of Graham County in southeast Arizona is at risk.
The squirrels occupy Mount Graham and Webb, Hawk, High, Emerald, and Heliograph Peaks in the Pinalenos. Scientists first collected these small mammals from the mountains in 1894. By 1965, this mammal was thought to be extinct.
A few years later, some squirrels were found, and today there may be only about 200 of these small survivors. The squirrel is on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's list of threatened native wildlife in Arizona and is classified as "endangered" by the federal government.
Like other squirrels, the Mount Graham type belongs to the order Rodentia, which includes mice, skunks, hamsters, beavers, and porcupines. In common with all rodents, the squirrel has four long, chisellike teeth built for gnawing the plant foods that make up its diet.