The Squirrels of North Carolina

The Squirrels of North Carolina

Eastern Gray Squirrel sitting on a branch
The Gray Squirrel

Did you know that the official state mammal of North Carolina was a squirrel , the gray squirrel and in 1969 the General Assembly made the Gray Squirrel the official mammal of North Carolina. The gray squirrel can easily be found in all corners of North Carolina and it is just as much at home in the swamps of eastern North Carolina as it is in the upland hardwood portions of the state in the Piedmont and in the western counties. The gray squirrel is abundant in out towns, and cities and is a big menace or nuisance when they invade attics, chimneys, fireplaces, basements and other parts of the home, business, commercial or industrial establishments.

The Gray squirrel is omnivorous like all squirrels will eat things such as: birdseed, spring bulbs, tree buds, frogs, small birds, eggs, insects, insect larva, fruits, conifer cones, and nuts. We love to watch squirrels bury their catches and in a average lifetime a gray squirrel will bury thousands of catches underground and save them for later. Many of these catches are remarkably found later but many go unfound and eventually if they are nuts or pine cones will eventually take root from the “planting” by the squirrel and become new growth or trees. I like to think of squirrels as accidental foresters.

Gray squirrels Sciurus carolinensis like their cousins the Fox squirrel have litters twice a year once in the late summer between August and September and in late Winter & early spring from Feb-April each year. Their gestation period is on average 44 days, babies when born weigh about 15g and born hairless and are commonly referred to as”pinkies” in the pest control trade when newborn young litters are found.

The Fox Squirrel


 There are three distinct geographical phases in Fox squirrel coloration: in most areas the animals are brown-grey to brown-yellow, while in eastern regions such as the Appalachians there are more strikingly-patterned dark brown and black squirrels with white bands on the face and tail. In the south can be found isolated communities with uniform black coats.
There are three distinct geographical phases in coloration: in most areas the animals are brown-grey to brown-yellow, while in eastern regions such as the Appalachians there are more strikingly-patterned dark brown and black squirrels with white bands on the face and tail. In the south can be found isolated communities with uniform black coats.


The Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger like its cousin the gray squirrel is a tree squirrel and live all over the State of North Carolina. Their gestational period is about the same as the gray squirrel 44 days average and diets are similar being they too like the gray squirrel are omnivorous. Fox squirrels can live in homes and do not belong in homes. Fox squirrels thrive best among trees such as oak, hickory,walnut and pine that produce winter-storable foods like nuts.

The fox squirrel is the largest of the squirrel species found here in North Carolina and they have many color variations but the most common here in North Carolina are dark brown and black squirrels with white faces.

Fox squirrels are also sometimes referred to as the stump-eared squirrel, raccoon squirrel, or monkey-faced squirrel.

Red Squirrels

A third squirrel, a tree squirrel like their cousins the Fox Squirrel and the Gray Squirrel is the American Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. American Red Squirrels are also referred to as Pine Squirrels, North American Red Squirrels and Chickarees. Red squirrels are easily identified from their other cousins the Gray Squirrel and the Fox squirrel because they are smaller in size, and they are red and   have whitish fur on their underbellies .

Of the three tree squirrels here in North Carolina the red squirrel is only found in the Western Appalachian part of North Carolina and is rarely found in homes but they have been found in homes just not that common. For more info on the Red Squirrel please visit the species report prepared by NCSU here.

The Known Distribution Range of the Red Squirrel according to NCSU

Species Distribution from known occurrences. Species may occur in similar habitats in other counties.Green counties indicate observed within 20 years. Yellow counties indicate an obscure data reference to the species in the county. Red counties indicate observed more than 20 years ago.

Species Location Map based on information provided by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus...

Red Squirrel

American Red Squirrel In its Natural Habitat

Nature’s Predators of NC Squirrels

The American Red Squirrel, The Gray squirrel, Fox Squirrels and Flying squirrels are preyed preyed upon by Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and in the Outerbanks portion of North Carolina the Red Wolf (Canis rufus).

North Carolina’s Flying Squirrels

Southern Flying Squirrel

Here in North Carolina we are home to two squirrel species and belong to the family Scuridae, The endangered North Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel.
Range of the Southern Flying squirrel is that they are found in all parts of the state
Flying squirrels are nocturnal and probably the rarest , common known mammal here in North Carolina. The flying squirrel if living in a home quickly become a nightmare to the unskilled, untrained nuisance wildlife control professional. it is extremely rare that amateurs and homeowners will solve a flying squirrel invasion of their home until their home is inspected and excluded by a Flying squirrel expert .

Size Comparison of the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels Credit

carolinanort.gif - North Carolina county map with species location

Flying squirrels have two litters a year. Produce 1 to 6 young although the average litter contains two to three young. Gestation is 40 days. They weigh less than a quarter of an ounce at birth. Young can glide in 8 weeks. Squirrels stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Young mature in one year.

Here are the opening remarks when New Hampshires’s Flying Squirrel Expert David Kondrup spoke on14 Jun 2009 The Wildlife Pro Network with Robb Russell. One thing about Flying squirrels is that in addition to being squiirel like the exclusion are more bat rmeoval like and get get pricey for poorly maintained structures.

What if we could design the ultimate pest, one that would make us money and drive everyone else insane? What if you could design a pest that would drive any homeowner to the point they would shoot holes in their ceilings or tear down entire walls to get rid of it?
If I could design the perfect pest, I would make it run around all night long, causing the homeowners to lose sleep. I would make it move into the house in the winter and leave in the summer — only to come back just when the homeowner thinks it’s finally gone.
Setting traps would be almost worthless unless you were very good at it, and even then more would return the following year. They could squeeze through a hole the size of your thumbnail, and through a linear crack the width of your pinky finger. Even worse, the entry holes would have very little, if any, chewing damage, so it would be even harder to find the main entryway.
I would make this pest toilet in one spot over and over again, day after day. It would have a strong odor and stain the ceilings and soffits. The feces would look like bat guano, just to confuse both homeowners and wildlife professionals even more.
Flying Squirrel
I would make the pest omnivorous, so if the homeowners removed the bird feeders outside, the pest could still feed on the mice living in the house.
I would make it lightening fast and loud, so seeing it would be difficult and hearing it would seem like an entire army was living in the attic. If they were to catch a glimpse of one, the homeowners would find that it is multi-colored, so it’s difficult to identify or describe — except for its really big eyes, which make it seem larger than it really is.
Jumping 100 to 150 feet would be no problem for this pest, so cutting down trees would be absolutely useless.
And, of course, I would make it so that only wildlife professionals with serious experience could effectively catch them.
They already exist. . .
In my book, the flying squirrel is the ultimate pest. Next to the bat, this is the pest that pays my mortgage. It’s the pest that I have spent the last decade studying at night, strapped to trees, waiting for them to come by. These are the little guys I have spent countless nights anchored to roofs at night to observe them during exclusions. I have sat in an attic all night long and had them run up my pant legs.
David Kondrup Flying Squirrel & Bat Removal Expert in New Hampshire, Maine & Massachusetts

You can listen to David Kondrup on Two Podcasts called Flying Squirrels & Bats with David Kondrup.
Part One: Great Info on flying squirrels in the beginning before the topic drifted to becoming bat removal specific.

Part Two: More Flying Squirrel Specific then Part One

Squirrels of North America

Other types of squirrels and squirrel species in North America  include the Antelope Squirrel, Prairie Dog, Marmot, Woodchuck, Chipmunk, Spotted Squirrel , Grey Squirrel, American Red Squirrel,Thirteen Lined Squirrel,  Northern Flying Squirrels , Southern Flying Squirrel , Arizona Gray Squirrel, Idaho Squirrel, Arctic Ground Squirrel, Franklin Squirrel, Richardson Squirrel, Douglas Squirrel, Albert’s Squirrel, Fox Squirrel, Mountain Tree Squirrel, Rock Squirrel, Pygmy Squirrel, White Squirrel, Albino Squirrel and Black Squirrel.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Nutria look a lot like a big fat squirrel . Nutria are larger then squirrels and have huge orange teeth and nutiria are not squirrels but  belong to the same order Rodentia, and are rodents. Squirrels do not have orange teeth !
Many fail to realize that the squirrel is a member of a very large rodent family common here in North Carolina, which includes the Beaver, Nutria, Mice, Rats, Groundhogs, Whistlepigs, Woodchucks and are  similar size  to other small mammal species like the mole, shrew, and the vole.  Some common rodent species found in homes as pets, include, Gliders, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, Exotic Rat and Mouse Species,  and similar to exotic species like the hedgehog.
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