Eastern Gray Squirrel
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – ENCHANTED FOREST PARK, FL
The eastern gray squirrel, or grey squirrel (depending on region), (Sciurus carolinensis), is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus native to the eastern and midwestern United States, and to the southerly portions of the eastern provinces of Canada. The native range of the eastern gray squirrel overlaps with that of the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), with which it is sometimes confused, although the core of the fox squirrel’s range is slightly more to the west.
A prolific and adaptable species, the eastern gray squirrel has been introduced to, and thrives, in several regions of the western United States.
As the name suggests, the eastern gray squirrel has predominantly gray fur but it can have a reddish color. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail. Particularly in urban situations where the risk of predation is reduced, both white- and black-colored individuals are quite often found.
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. Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for re-burial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. It has been estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache. It is one of very few mammalian species that can descend a tree head-first. It does this by turning its feet so that the claws of its hindpaws are backward pointing and can grip the tree bark.
Eastern gray squirrels are more active during the early and late hours of the day, and tend to avoid the heat in the middle of a summer day. They do not hibernate.