Knowing the biology of gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) is essential to control them. The maxim says, “Know thy Enemy” is true for war and for management of gray squirrels.
This blog will review some of the key facts that wildlife control operators (WCOs) should know about gray squirrel biology in order to answer client questions and control this species effectively.
Name: The genus Sciurus derives from a Greek word skia which means shadow or shade, and oura which means tail. Carolinensis refers to the colony of Carolina.
Range: Gray squirrels exist in the eastern half of the United States and into southern Canada. Grays may be found elsewhere in the U.S. due to translocations.
Size: Males and females are about equal here. Squirrels in the northern latitudes are larger than those in southern latitudes.
• Total length (which includes the tail) is 15-21 inches. Tail length is 6-10 inches. Another way to look at it is the tail is about as long as the body.
• Weight: 10.5 to 25 ounces.
• Females mate with multiple males.
• Males may travel up to 546 yards to mate.
• Average litter size is 2 to 3 with a maximum of 8.
• Years where food is readily available, females will have two litters.
• Young are born naked and blind. Eyes open in 3 to 6 weeks. Young are weaned between weeks 7-10.
Home Range: Gray squirrel home ranges can vary widely from 1 acre to 50. Most are less than 8 acres. Gray squirrels are not very territorial as home ranges can overlap extensively. But core areas may be defended.
Sounds: Gray squirrels make four sounds to signify alarm: buzz, kuk, moan, and quaa.
Feeding: They love nuts. But will eat plants and up to 14 animal items. Gray squirrels, unlike red squirrels, scatter cache foods rather than hoard them in one place. Nuts may be buried up to a depth of one inch.
Reference: Koprowski, John L. 1994. Sciurus carolinensis. Mammalian Species 480(Dec 2): 1-9.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel) along with several books (https://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com/store-2/). Listen to his podcast at PestGeek Podcast (https://pestgeekpodcast.com/). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. If you would like to have Stephen speak at your event or use his consultation services, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.