Eastern grey squirrel, also popular as a grey squirrel, is a tree squirrel, native to eastern North America. These adorable species are commonly seen in parks, the backyard of the house, and in forests. The most notable physical feature of the grey squirrel is its large bushy tail.
Eastern grey squirrels occur in two color phases –grey and black. Let’s find out some more information about this little mammal.
The scientific name of Eastern Grey Squirrel is Sciurus carolinensis.
Eastern grey squirrels have predominantly grey fur. They have a white underside that makes them look different than the other fox squirrels. Their large bushy tail helps them fight against predators. The head and body length of these species measure 23 – 30 cm.
The bushy tail stretches to a length of 19-25cm. As they don’t display any sexual dimorphism; there is no gender difference in size and coloration. They have four toes on the front feet and five on the hind feet. The dental formula of this squirrel is 1023/1013.
Native to Eastern and Midwestern United States, eastern grey squirrels are also found in the southerly portion of the eastern provinces of Canada. Grey squirrels also range across several regions of western United States.
Considered for being the largest amongst all tree squirrels, grey squirrel inhabits in areas surrounded by dense woodland. As they are nut-eating species, they are hugely seen in the vast tracts of oak and hickory forests. They prefer residing in forests because of dense vegetation, which is a source of food for these squirrels.
They are also found constructing dens upon tree branches and also within the hollow trunks of trees. Grey squirrels are known to take shelter within bird nests. You can often see them roaming in parks and backyards of houses of the rural environment.
Grey squirrels eat a variety of foods like tree buds, berries, a different type of seeds, walnuts, acorns, hazelnuts, etc. They also prefer having fungi like fly agaric mushrooms.
These squirrels raid gardens for corn, tomatoes, strawberries, and other garden crops. On several occasions, grey squirrels prey upon frogs, insects, small birds, and their eggs.
Here are some interesting facts about the behavioral traits of the eastern grey squirrel.
The adaptations of Eastern Grey Squirrel make it possible for these creatures to leap across trees and escape from the clutches of the predators. They can also catch predators with the help their sharp claws. The claws also enable them to climb on trees as well as grasp different things. With their sharp teeth, they can easily open the nuts by cracking them.
Eastern grey squirrels breed twice a year. December to February and May to late June are notified for being their mating season. Their gestation period lasts for about 44 days. After the gestation period is over, the squirrel produces 2 to 5 young, naked squirrel babies.
The number can increase up to 8. These squirrels usually give birth to babies in the sheltered nest, created by them inside a hollow tree. The newborn babies are born blind and weigh near about 15gm. They mature quickly and their hair starts developing by three weeks of their lifecycle.
These squirrels are found to live almost 20 years in captivity, but they live much shorter in the wild, because of predation and other challenges.
Unlike other mammals, grey squirrels have some natural predators too. Common predators of grey squirrels are red fox, snakes, raccoons, and hawks.
These little species are host to several diseases and parasite attack. They can have cysts on their body, due to Botfly larvae. Worms, ticks, and lice are also responsible for harming these squirrels. Grey squirrels face ailments like Fibromatosis and squirrel pox. The historical origins of these viruses have not been determined yet.
IUCN has categorized this mammal as the least concern species on earth. They do not cause any damage to agricultural crops and are considered as important agents of reforestation. Their habit of burying nests helps re-establish hardwood forests.
Here you can find out all about thousands of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fishes walking, flying, and swimming the Earth.
© 2018 (Animals Planet). All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Designed and Developed by Bedanta Softech