Eastern Gray Squirrel
* Body gray, 8-10".
* In winter, gray squirrels have white fur behind their ears; in summer,
the gray fur is more tawny and the tail is whiter.
* Tail bushy, gray, bordered with white-tipped hairs, 7-10".
* Habitat: Hardwood forests with nut trees, glades, parks, and lawns.
Nests in holes in trees or builds leaf nests in tree branches.
* Range: Eastern United States, introduced in Seattle.
* Behavior: Gray squirrels are active year-round and arboreal; they cannot
live in a treeless environment. They feed on a great variety of things,
such as nuts, seeds, fungi, fruits, and the cambium layer of tree bark,
as well as bones and turtle shells. They store nuts and acorns in holes
in the ground. Gray squirrels mate in January - February and July in
the north, December and June in the south. They make a variety of calls,
including the familiar clucking and fussing calls.
* Lifespan: Male - 9 years; Female - 12 1/2 years.
* Gray squirrels can swim up to two miles in calm water; they swim with
their heads and rumps out of the water, and their tails held high in
the air. Most squirrels are sedentary, however, spending their entire
lives within a single acre of land.
* Research has shown that gray squirrels are creatures of habit;
they appear to run through tree branches on identical routes.
* Squirrels, like most mammals, have a pelage,
or coat, made up of two types of hair: guard hairs, the long
outer hairs which in the gray squirrel are white-tipped, and
fur, which is short, fine, often curly, and close to the body.
Guard hairs protect the fur, while the fur insulates the mammal.
* Abundant squirrel populations can do incredible damage to
corn crops; early American colonists attempting to establish
farms during masting years, or years of abundant nut production,
of oak, beech, and chestnut trees, were rudely surprised. The
large quantity of nuts translated into a huge population of squirrels,
which devastated the crops and plagued the colonists.