Tree Squirrel


Tree squirrels (fox, red and grey) frequently gnaw on electrical wires and are often the culprit of mysterious power outages. This gnawing behavior can also result in extensive damage when they enter buildings: chewing baseball sized holes in roof vents, and other areas along the roof line to facilitate comings & goings. Tree squirrels can enter attics nesting and flattening down insulation reducing the R-value.

Did you Know?

Tree squirrels forage for nuts, seeds, buds, and flowers of trees.

Fox squirrels feed mainly on hickory nuts and acorns, but also eat the fruit of tulip poplar, maple tree seeds, corn bordering woods, berries, bird eggs and fungi.

Grey squirrels feed primarily on nuts, especially hickory nuts, acorns, beechnuts and walnuts. In addition, they occasionally feed on maple or tulip tree seeds, fruit, opening buds and corn.

Red squirrels feed on a great variety of seeds, nuts, berries, bird eggs and fungi.

As an interesting fact, tree squirrels may also eat small insects, caterpillars, small animals, and young snakes.

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Fox squirrels are approximately 18-27 inches in length. Their color may vary by their surrounding habitat and regions in which they are established. In the northeastern part of the fox squirrel’s range, they tend to be gray on top with yellowish undersides. In the western part of the range, they are a bright rust color. In the southern part of the range, they tend to be black with white patches on their faces and tails.

Grey squirrels are approximately 16-20 inches in length. Their fur is dark gray with intertwined sections of paler gray.

Red squirrels have bodies that are 7 to 8 inches long and tails that are 4 to 6 inches long. Their fur is rust red or gray on top with white or grayish-white undersides and tails with black bands and white edges.

Fox squirrels favor oak-hickory forests, but they are also found in pine forests and cypress and mangrove swamps in the South. During the summer months, fox squirrels make leaf nests in trees and they often overwinter in a common tree hole.

Grey squirrels are found in hardwood or mixed forests with nut trees, especially oak-hickory forests and river bottoms. In the summer, grey squirrels’ nest in tree cavities or build nests made of leaves in branches. In the winter months, they are known to invade structures and homes looking for a place to overwinter.

Red squirrels usually nest in tree cavities or nests made of leaves, twigs and bark.

Tree squirrels enter homes when development reduces the number of trees available for nesting.

Tree squirrels perform noisy mating chases during the breeding season. Tree squirrels breed from mid-December-January and again in June (Grey and Fox). Some squirrels may have a second mating in June or July.

Approximately three young are born after a 42 - 45-day gestation period. Young are weaned at 10 - 12 weeks of age and reach sexual maturity in their first year of life.

Tree squirrels don’t have fur when they are born and are not able to see. They often weigh as little as 14 grams.

About half of the squirrels in a population die each year and rarely do individuals live past 4 years of age.

  1. Squirrel varieties can be found in every region of Canada and the United States.
  2. A group of squirrels is called a scurry.
  3. Squirrels are extremely territorial and will even fight to the death to defend their area.
  4. Baby squirrels, called kits, are born blind with no fur. It can take 3 to 6 weeks before a baby squirrel will even open its eyes.
  5. Squirrels over 4 years of age are rare.
  6. Tree squirrels have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to help locate food that they’ve hidden away. They can also pick up information about their fellow squirrels by smelling them.
  7. They communicate with each other by making sounds and body movements, such as tail flicking. When predators such as red foxes and red-tailed hawks are nearby, tree squirrels will sound warning calls to alert other squirrels.

How many types of squirrels are there?

There are more than 200 species of squirrels, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and they are categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. 12 of these species are found in Canada.

6 of these are tree and flying squirrels: Eastern grey squirrel, Fox squirrel, American red squirrel, Douglas squirrel, Southern flying squirrel and Northern flying squirrel.

6 of these are ground squirrels: Richardson’s ground squirrel, Columbian ground squirrel, Artic ground squirrel, Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin’s ground squirrel, and Golden-mantled ground squirrel.

What is the difference between a ground squirrel, tree squirrel and flying squirrel?

Ground squirrels live up to their name and like to stay grounded – they typically live in burrows or tunnel systems they create, and some will hibernate there in the winter months. They eat nuts, leaves, roots, seeds, and other plants; but are also known to eat tiny animals such as caterpillars and some insects.

Tree squirrels also live up to their name. They typically live in wooded areas such as parks, forests, woodlands, etc. They will, however, make frequent trips to the ground when they are in need of food. Typically, their diet consists of nuts, acorns, berries and flowers. However, they also eat bark, eggs or sometimes baby birds.

Flying squirrels like to believe they’re birds and typically live like them, in nests and tree holes. They don’t literally live up to their name, as they can’t technically fly. However, they can glide through the air from tree to tree extending their arms and legs and coasting. These species eat nuts and fruit and also insects and baby birds that they catch at times.

Can tree squirrels be dangerous to humans?

Tree Squirrels tend to be dangerous to humans indirectly by spreading disease vectors such as fleas, ticks or mites. Some ground squirrels are also reservoirs for plague.

Because squirrels are voracious gnawers, they pose a safety risk when they enter buildings. They frequently chew electrical lines which can cause fires.

Can tree squirrels damage my home? Absolutely! Tree squirrels frequently chew holes in opportune areas of the roof to get into the attic, which is a warm, protected place in which to raise their young. A baseball sized hole along your gutters, trim or vents is a telltale sign a squirrel has moved in. Squirrels are rodents and need to constantly wear down their teeth, just sometimes they do this on electrical wires and/or structural beams inside homes. Their habit of chewing electrical wires can damage electrical equipment and cause power outages & fires. Squirrels inside your home or building can make a big mess, ripping & displacing insulation - as well as contaminating surfaces with their urine & feces.

Can tree squirrels damage my yard?

Even if your home has yet to be invaded by a pesky squirrel, there are problems that can occur all over your yard. It's well known that squirrels will bury acorns and other nuts in anticipation of leaner times, which can lead to divots and holes in your grass.

To make matters worse, the National Wildlife Federation reported that squirrels may actually dig more holes than needed. If one of these rodents thinks it's being watched by an opportunistic adversary, it will pretend to bury a nut in one place before actually hiding it elsewhere. For that reason, a single squirrel can cause an impressive amount of damage to your lawn.

Beyond nuts, squirrels will also be happy to investigate a garden and munch on berries and other edibles. And in the winter, some individuals may even eat the bark off of a tree, potentially killing saplings in the process.

How do I keep tree squirrels out?

Sealing entry points with appropriate materials is imperative when excluding squirrels and other wildlife. Small cracks around doors and windows; as well as cracks/holes in chimneys, plumbing mats, roof vents, wall vents, roof edges, and roof soffits and intersections.

Ensuring garbage is contained and taken out regularly and keeping food in airtight containers can also help. If possible, trimming tree limbs back about 6-8 feet from your roofline can make it tougher for tree and flying squirrels to reach your home.

Tree squirrels are crafty and can find entrance in very unique ways. There are also government restrictions that need to be carefully adhered to when performing any wildlife removal or exclusion, so we recommend a professional take care of it. We provide humane, legal removal as well as effective exclusion work.

What are the signs of a tree squirrel infestation?

Signs of tree squirrel infestation include noises from squirrels in attics, chimneys, walls or vents; holes in siding; damaged bird feeders; chewed wires; attic insulation damage; and evidence of squirrel nests in the attic.

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