Eastern Grey Squirrel

The Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) aka Cat Squrrel is a tree squirrel that is native to the eastern and midwestern United States as well as the eastern provinces of Canada. The species name carolinensis refers to the Carolinas, where they were first documented by zoologists.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel's fur is gray, but it can have a reddish tinge. Its belly is white. They have large bushy tails. Interestingly in urban situations where predation risk is reduced, both albino and melanistic (black) forms are much more common than in the wild.

At the northern limits of its range in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the melanistic form tends to be more common than the gray form whereas in the South the melanistic phase is the rarest color pattern.

There are colonies of albino squirrels in Ontari, Illinois and in North Carolina.

Like many members of the squirrel family, the Eastern Gray Squirrel hoards food in numerous small caches, for recovery later. Squirrels will make several thousand caches each season. Memory of the cache location guides the squirrels back to the food later and the squirrels smell is only used once the squirrel is within a few centimetres of the cache site.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel makes a variety of noises, including a loud screeching, a "buck buck buck" sound and a chattering, often followed by "kyukyukyuuuu." They make these noises to communicate with other gray squirrels, and sometimes they make noises while they're alarmed to warn others of danger that they have spotted or to get a suspected predator to move and thereby blow the predators cover.

These squirrels build a type of nest, known as a drey, in the forks of trees. The nest is made of dry leaves and twigs.

Squirrel in urban areas are great theives and raiders of bird feeders and many birdfeeders today have attempted to squirrel proof the seed from the squirrels. Some seed is sold with hot pepper coating, because only mammals such as squirrels can taste its capsaicin, while the birds cannot. Mixing hot pepper flakes into regular birdseed works well as a squirrel deterrent.

Predators include man, hawks, owls, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes and snakes.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel is common throughout most of its natural range and wherever it has been introduced. It readily becomes tolerant of humans and learns to take food left or offered by picnickers.

The Eastern Gray has also been introduced into a variety of locations on the west coast of North America, including San Francisco and the Peninsula area of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties south of the city. At the turn of the 20th century it was introduced into South Africa and England, spreading across the latter and then invading both Wales and parts of southern Scotland where it has almost exclusively displaced the population of the native Red Squirrel. It has also been introduced to Italy.

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