Sciurus carolinensis

Eastern Grey Squirrel
Color:

Blackish-Brown to Grayish Brown

Legs: 4
Shape:

9-12 inches - Head and Body; 7-10 inches - Tail

Size:

Medium sized rodent ( ½ to 1 ½ pounds) with long bushy tail

Antennae: No
Region:

Eastern and Midwestern US

The Eastern Grey (or Gray) Squirrel is a tree squirrel that has predominantly gray/brown fur, a white belly and a long bushy tail.

Habits

Grey Squirrels do not hibernate and are active during the early and late hours of the day year-round. Squirrels feed on fruit, tree bark, leaves, fungi, seeds, many types of nuts and acorns, berries, and occasionally on small dead animals, insects, small birds, bird eggs and frogs. They are considered scatter-hoarders as they store great quantities of food in many caches throughout their territory. They communicate by means of vocalization (series of chirps) and posturing – including tail flicking - everything from laughter to alarm.

Habitat

Grey Squirrels typically build nests in the forks of trees with leaves, twigs and bark called a drey. They will also inhabit tree dens or nest in buildings they have accessed. Grey Squirrels mate 1 to 2 times a year – in December to February, and May to June. They have 1 to 2 litters per year with between 2 and 8 young – the first in early March, the second in July. They live 1 to 12 years in the wild, 11 to 12 months on average in the suburbs. Their lifespan depends on the severity of the winter, food availability, predators, parasites and the inevitable automobile accident.

Threats

Outside, this tendency to scatter-hoard their food is destructive to turf and landscaping. They will annoy you as they raid your bird-feeders. Grey Squirrels are not commonly known to carry infectious pathogens - however, if bitten make sure you are treated by a physician. Squirrels gain access to homes and commercial buildings through vents, broken windows, knotholes, gaps under eaves and gables, and even chimneys and fireplaces. When a building is used as a nesting site or food storage they cause damage as they gnaw on wood and flooring. They can cause power outages and fire as they gnaw on phone lines, electrical lines and cables. Grey Squirrels are also known to carry ectoparasites – fleas, ticks, mites and chiggers.

Prevention

Keeping squirrels “OUT” of your home or building is your best option. Cover vents, repair broken windows, seal knotholes, seal gaps under eaves and gables, and cap chimneys so they don’t gain access through the fireplace. Squirrels only need space the size of their head to gain entry. As soon as you discover squirrels have taken up residence, take steps to remove them - contact a licensed pest control professional to help you.

* Information courtesy of Smithsonian – National Museum of Natural History

* Image courtesy of Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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