The grey squirrel is native to North America. They are typically greyish brown on their backside and tail with a white underside, but color variations do occur and are prevalent in certain populations. There are both all white and all black variations of the grey squirrel. There are also mixes of those two (most likely through cross breeding) consisting of black with white tails and white with black tails.
In the wild the grey squirrel prefers deciduous woodlands but is easily able to live in rural and urban areas such as towns, parks, cities and neighborhoods. As long as there are trees, the grey squirrel can feel at home.
Grey squirrels do not hibernate in the winter although they do make nests for themselves in which to escape inclement or especially cold weather. During the winter the grey squirrel’s fur coat will grow thicker.
Most grey squirrels live three to four years.
Squirrels are herbivores, meaning they don’t eat meat. However on rare occasions when food is especially scarce squirrels can in fact switch to being carnivores by eating insects, small reptiles, and even the eggs of birds.
The grey squirrel’s diet consists mainly of the seeds of various trees and plants, but they also will frequently eat leaves, buds, shoots, flowers, mushrooms and to the chagrin of many gardeners, all types of garden vegetables and flowering bulbs.
Grey squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are active in the day time and sleep at night. Unlike some other species of squirrels the grey squirrel will spend most of its day foraging for food on the ground. The exception to this is when seeds are plentiful in trees. As an example grey squirrels can frequently be seen in pine trees pulling apart pine cones to get at the seeds.
Grey squirrels build nests in trees. These nests are typically made from twigs that the squirrels chew through and brake off from the tree. The collected twigs will still have leaves attached which help them to insulate their nests.
One of the most interesting habits of the grey squirrel is the way in which they avoid potential predators. Grey squirrels will ascend a tree and then will place themselves on the opposite side of the tree away from the perceived predator. If you come across a squirrel as its climbing up the trunk of a tree, walk around the tree and you’ll notice the squirrel scurry around to the other side of the tree always keeping the tree between itself and you.
Grey Squirrels have fairly good eyesight. They can see movement especially well. For example when tossing a bit a food toward a grey squirrel the squirrel can be seen watching the piece of food as it sails through the air, but once the food hits the ground and comes to rest, the squirrel will appear to no longer be able to see it and instead will rely upon it’s sense of smell to locate exactly where the item landed.
Grey squirrels mate once or twice each year and can have from two to eight babies in one litter. The female squirrel will build a nest and fill it with soft linings from soft materials she finds and gathers. Squirrels can become a nuisance pest when they begin building nests inside people’s attics in which they gain entry either through slats in attic vents or by having chewed a hole in the shingles or siding of the home.
The gestation period for Grey Squirrels is six weeks. The babies are born with closed eyes and no fur. The babies are weaned after about ten weeks at which time they will be on their own and will frequently be chased from the area by other grey squirrels who already make that particular location their home.
Grey squirrels can breed around one year of age.
Grey squirrels have many predators. There are a variety of birds that hunt squirrels such as owls and hawks. Dogs and cats are also considered predators of the grey squirrel. Snakes such as the Easten Diamond Back have been known to eat grey squirrels. Humans also eat them. The website Backwoods Bound offers several squirrel recipes.
All squirrels are rodents, as are rats and mice. Although squirrels are perhaps the cutest of all rodents they can become a tremendous nuisance when they destroy food crops, damage personal property, “steal” bird seed from bird feeders or build nests inside the attics of people’s homes. This website How To Stop Squirrels provides information about controlling nuisance squirrel problems.