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Eastern gray squirrel

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Eastern gray squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrel.png
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Sciurus carolinensis

  • S. c. carolinensis
  • S. c. extimus
  • S. c. fuliginosus
  • S. c. hypophaeus
  • S. c. pennsylvanicus[1]
Eastern gray squirrel climbing tree.jpg
An Eastern Gray Squirrel is climbing a tree

The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a squirrel native to the eastern parts of The United States and Canada. The Eastern gray squirrel lives its life with trees and hiding in tall grassy areas. Eastern gray squirrels have gray hairs with orange tips on the side of its arms. Its belly is more of a grayish-white or rusty color. Eastern gray squirrels also have a white trim on the back of their ears like the other Squirrels in the United States. The Eastern gray squirrel is from the deciduous forest and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests of eastern North America and southeast Canada. It prefers to den inside trees, but will construct large nests of leaves in the canopy if tree cavities are not available. Eastern Gray Squirrels live only 11-12 months on average, but some individuals have survived more than ten years in the wild. Factors affecting survival include the severity of winter, abundance of food, and parasites. One parasite, the mange mite, may cause enough hair loss to threaten survival through winter.[2]

Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the eastern gray squirrel is a scatter hoarder. It hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. The eastern gray squirrel is one of very few mammalian species that can descend a tree head-first. It does this by turning its feet so the claws of its hind paws are backward pointing and can grip the tree bark.[3] Eastern gray squirrels can breed twice a year, but younger and less experienced mothers will normally have a single litter per year in the spring. Eastern gray squirrels are born hairless with their eyes closed.

The eastern gray squirrel can run up to 25kph. The eastern gray squirrel prefers to be in trees; so you when you see it on the ground it is going to find or store food.[4]

Body Design

the eastern gray squirrel in the snow
The eastern gray squirrel's famous bushy tail

The Eastern Gray squirrel's appearance can depend on season. The fur will get thicker with more gray and white spots to protect itself from the cold temperatures along with the winter snow. And when summer comes it sheds its fur and it gets lighter in color. And when alarmed they flatten their bodies on a tree to stay hidden.[5]

They have a large bushy tail. [5] It’s tail is about 19 to 25 cm long, and the average adult weighs about 14 to 21 ounces. The male and the female has a very similar body structures.[6] Another fascinating design of the eastern gray squirrel is their sharp claws that help them climb vertically up trees clinging onto the bark even when its wet. It was discovered that they have four fingers on its front paws and has five fingers in their hind legs. The melanistic form (development that makes the color of your skin darker) is also in some of the species, but it’s fur color is almost or completely black.[5]

The Eastern Gray Squirrel has a very good vision, a good sense of smell, and also has a very keen hearing. They’re also created to have incredible balance so that they rarely fall when they’re climbing trees. Even though they aren’t built for swimming, they’re fantastic swimmers. They’re tails are one of the most important body parts in their body. Their tails are used for balance, shade from the sun when it’s hot, used as an umbrella when it’s raining, used as a blanket when it’s cold, and they also use it as a rudder (a tool that you use to steer or move in the wanted direction) when they’re swimming. [7]

Life Cycle

The average life of a gray squirrel is 5 to 6 years. The eastern gray squirrel loves to reproduce; especially the males. The males will engage to reproduce with a female that is currently in estrous (a recurring period of sexual receptivity in females). There are mainly only two times in which mating will take place within groups per year. They usually only occur in mid summer and late winter. The female usually does all of the work. The offspring will be born around the time of the months of March and April – July and August. When born after the gray squirrel’s gestation period of 40 to 45 days, the female will give birth to 1 to 8 offspring. [8]

Once born, the baby gray squirrel is blind and without hair on its body except vibrissae (Any of the long stiff hairs growing around the mouth or elsewhere on the face of many mammals, used as organs of touch; whiskers.) which is around the nose and mouth that are used for touch like whiskers on a rabbit or cat. They will gain sight after a month or more. They will fully grow their hair after about a month and a half. The mother of the litter will nurse the developing squirrels after about two months. During this time, the squirrels will run-off and start their lives in the “new world.” [9] Maturity takes place in the spring and summer time and usually takes 10 months. [10] [11]

a healthy middle aged squirrel


The Eastern Gray Squirrel's range map.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel prefers a temperate region; including forest type biomes. This mammal is found anywhere from brush land to cities. They are diurnal (During the day, they are active). They are up and about for the duration of the morning and mid afternoon. Though unimodal (which means: involving or containing one mode) these squirrels may still be active in the late fall through winter. They love to eat many different types of nuts, pinecones, and various seeds. [12] There are many different relationships between eastern gray squirrels that live in the same area. God created the males over the females, and they are only equal to the males when their offspring is present. Females have the instinct to defend the verge (an edge or boundary) around their homes. The eastern gray squirrel uses vocal signals in order to interpret each other. They do not like to be out in cold weather unless necessary, and it will hibernate until the cold spell goes away. Then finally the change of their environment and instincts will send chemical messages to them and they will come out after the "last frost." Many forests east of the continental divide is a great habitat for the gray squirrel; there is also a gray squirrel population in Quebec, which is southeast Canada. [13] The squirrels really love oak trees. They are also found interestingly at the premises of bird feeding stations. Over the time that the eastern gray squirrel has dominated the forests, there has been some loss of trees in the many of the forests. This was because of their pilgrimages throughout the eastern U.S. There are many different homes for the gray squirrel; the most common is a nest of leaves. The squirrel also prefers holes in trees. [14]

Invasive Behavior

The eastern gray squirrel is a worry in Europe because they are driving out the native red squirrel. They are such a problem because they are not native there, That is not all of it; the rest is that they are bringing disease that are not native to there so the squirrels that are from the area have a hard time fighting off the disease. The gray squirrel is also a problem because they are becoming a "spill over" ( they are over populating the other species). They have also been linked to reproductive loses to the red squirrels. They are a threat to the resident species because they are competing for the same resources that the indigenous red squirrels.[15] The eastern gray squirrel not only became a threat to the European red squirrel but it also became a threat to the native trees in Europe. It has become a pest to many of the eastern states. They are threating the native trees because when food is scare in the winter, they will strip the bark of the: maple,pine and hemlock and other trees but those are their favorite .They think that the eastern gray squirrel has the disease that is lethal to the red squirrel called parapoxvirus. [16] They are a threat to the red squirrel, and they are also a pest to gardens because they eat the bulbs and roots. [17]

Control Efforts

There is a research organization called The Forestry Commission that is trying to control them permanently. They are trying to target the trees so that they will not strip the bark from the trees.[18]They are thinking that it will take several nations to help them or else they will just keep spreading [19]People have tried all sorts of things to control the eastern gray they have tried to put food that they do not like but it doesn't work. They are really not sure how to control the eastern gray. This squirrel has a love hate relationship with humans: they keep the insects and birds away but they also tear up flower gardens and ruin trees[20]

Another awesome gray squirrel picture!

Recommendations for controlling their intrusion into properties include placing repellent around the perimeter and putting repellent in the bird seed. Both of these have not shown much promise. Another thing that they have tried is to put a device that has a freighting sound or visual. They have tried this, but it still does not seem to be affecting the squirrel that much. The eastern gray squirrel runs away when being chased by a predator, so they thought that maybe that a dog could help. When they went in to a neighbor hood they realized that this did not seem to do anything because it is rare that the dog can actually catch them, and the squirrel finds a way to out smart the dog. One way that has slowly been working is to cut back any trees that are close to telephone lines so that it slows the movement of the squirrel around the yard. There are also ways that you can prevent them from getting inside your basement and that is by taking sheet metal and putting it where any openings are where they can get inside.[21]


An intro to the Eastern gray squirrel.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sciurus carolinensis Wikispecies. Web. Last modified on July 6, 2014. Author Unknown.
  2. Eastern Gray Squirrel - Sciurus carolinensis. Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Accessed October 18, 2014. Author unknown.
  3. [1]. Behavior of The Eastern Gray Squirrel. last modified on 20 October 2014 at 05:08. Author Unknown.
  4. [2]. Habitat and Habits. last viewed on 28October 2014 at 09:10. Seton, Ernest Thompson.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Eastern gray squirrel Wikipedia. Web. Last modified on October 14, 2014. Author Unknown.
  6. Lawniczak, M. Eastern Gray Squirrel Body Design biokids. Web. Accessed October 18, 2014.
  7. Eastern gray squirrel Web. Access on October 14, 2014. Author Unknown.
  8. Georgia wildlife. Web. Date accessed 10/16/14. Author unknown.
  9. Eastern Gray squirrel removal LLC. Web. Date-of-publication 2013.
  10. [3] "". Web. Accessed 10/14/14 Author unknown.
  11. [4] "bio-kids-Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species". Web. Accessed 10/14/14 Author Lawniczak, M.
  12. Eastern Gray Squirrel Ecology Web. Accessed 10/13/14
  13. Eastern Gray squirrel removal Web. Published-2013.
  14. [5] "". Web Last updated 01:47, 16 October 2014‎
  15. website management. Eastern Impact on other species Wikimedia foundation population. Web. this website was last modified on October 14 at 21:57.
  16. Mary Fischer. [6] Wikimedia foundation population. Web. this website was last modified on March 2, 2002
  17. . [7] IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group . Web. this website was last modified on Monday, 17 October 2005
  18. [8] IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group . Web. this website was last modified on Monday, 17 October 2005
  19. [9] Wikimedia Foundation. Web. this website was last modified on 14 October 2014 at 21:57
  20. [10] Theresa Painter. Web. this website was last viewed on 28 October 2014 at 8:57 author unknown
  21. Eastern Gray squirrel removal LLC. Web. Date-of-publication 2013 author unknown .