Critter Corner -
<--- Grey Squirrel
DID YOU KNOW:
The gray squirrel is the most
common city dwelling squirrel we see. It is the one that
is gray with a white underbelly, though coloration can vary from
white to black. But perhaps you have seen the larger,
orange-colored fox squirrel that is more often found in forested
areas and near rivers.
Squirrels are mainly
vegetarians, eating seeds, nuts (hickory are their favorite),
acorns, fruits, berries and sometimes mushrooms, insects and
even bird eggs. Squirrels bury nuts and acorns when they
are abundant and dig them up later as needed. Squirrels
find buried nuts by smell, not memory, so the caches are shared
by all. They gnaw on shed deer antlers to help wear down
their ever-growing front teeth and to get essential minerals
Mom squirrel may have two
litters of young each year, in February and again in July.
She may nest in a hole in a dead
tree or in a round nest
constructed of leaves and tucked among tree branches. The
three to five babies are naked and helpless at birth. In
five weeks they open their eyes and soon nibble on vegetation
and insects found in the nest. In eight weeks they forage
with Mom; they will soon be on their own.
Both fox and gray squirrels
are found east of he Rocky Mountains. Fox squirrels are not
found in the far northeastern United States. Forests with
an abundance of oak and hickory trees are preferred because the
trees provide food and nesting cavities. A nearby
creek or pond or even a birdbath provides water.
always on the lookout for animals that might hunt them.
Hawks, owl, coyotes, foxes and bobcats are major predators.
Cats and dogs also catch many squirrels. Squirrels depend
on excellent eyesight, sharp hearing, the ability to run fast
and climb trees, and protective camouflage to keep them safe.
If caught, sharp incisor teeth and strong jaw muscles can
deliver a serious bite.
A squirrel's bushy tail
has many important functions. It aids in balance; it
wraps around the sleeping squirrel like a blanket; and it
can serve as an umbrella when it rains.
Squirrels call to each other to warn of
To learn more about
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
fox squirrel, National Parks Service; Portrait of gray squirrel,
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Squirrel's nest,
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)