My Bantam Lake

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Written on 06/27/2018

Sciurus carolinensis

Sciurus carolinensis prefers habitats of mature continuous woodlands of greater than 40 hectares with diverse understory vegetation. Densities are highest in forests with trees that produce foods that last through winter storage such as oaks (Quercus) and walnuts (Juglans).Sciurus carolinensis is a medium sized tree squirrel with no sexual dimorphism in size or coloration. The dorsal surface ranges from grizzled dark to pale grey and may have cinnamon tones. The ears are pale grey to white and its tail is white to pale grey. Underparts are grey to buff. During the spring, summer and autumn, squirrels have their peak activity times about 2 hours after sunrise and 2-5 hours before sunset. This allows them to avoid the heat of the day. During the winter, they are unimodally diurnal with a peak just 2-4 hours before sunset. Generally, females are more active in the summer months and males are more active in the winter months. A dominance hierarchy forms in males during breeding times; females mate with several males. Squirrels occupy two types of homes, including a permanent tree den as well as a nest of leaves and twigs on a tree crotch 30-45 feet above the ground. Females nest alone when pregnant, and lactating females are especially aggressive and avoided by others. Eastern grey squirrels communicate among themselves with a variety of vocalizations and postures, such as tail flicking. They also have a keen sense of smell and can determine much about their neighbors in this way, including levels of stress and reproductive condition. Sciurus carolinensis feeds mostly on nuts, flowers and buds of more than 24 species of oaks, 10 species of hickory, pecan, walnut and beech tree species. Maple, mulberry, hackberry, elm, bucky and horse chestnut fruits, seeds, bulbs or flowers are also eaten along with wild cherry, dogwood, hawthorn, black gum, hazelnut, hop hornbeam and gingko tree fruits, seeds, bulbs and/or flowers. 


Source: Sciurus carolinensis Eastern Gray Squirrel, Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan  Museum of Zoology