Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel: (Sciurus carlinensis)

The eastern gray squirrel (sciurus carlinensis), are members of the sciuridae family. Eastern gray squirrels average between 14 to 20 inches long. Their tails average between 5 to 9 inches long and weigh between 11 to 23 ounces.

Eastern gray squirrels color patterns consist of dark gray to a pale gray and may have some tones of a cinnamon color. Their heads are small, in which they have 22 teeth. Their eyes are round and black. They have large, bushy tails and long ears. Their under - parts are pale gray to a whitish gray color.

Eastern gray squirrels are found throughout parts of the United States, including Florida. They inhibit areas that are heavily wooded with dense vegetation, like forests and woodlands.

Eastern gray squirrels are omnivores. Consuming a variety nuts, tree bark, berries, acorns, walnuts, seeds, flowers and buds. They also consume insects, birds eggs and nestlings, lichens, fungi, mushrooms, corn,
wheat and some carrion (dead animals).

Eastern gray squirrels are active during the summer months for approximately 2 or 3 hours after sun rise and 2 to 5 hours before the sun sets, allowing them to avoid the hottest part of the day. In the winter months their activity peeks 2 to 4 hours before the sun sets, however the females activity levels are higher in the summer months and the males have higher activity levels in the winter months. Their home ranges are also larger in the summer months than in the winter, with the exception of the mothers, which decrease their territory dramatically after the young are born. Eastern gray squirrels will defend their territories, when necessary. Eastern gray squirrels have two homes. One is its permanent tree den and the other is nest of leaves and twigs on two tree branches about 30 to 45 feet above the ground. Eastern gray squirrels communicate by using vocals, postures and movement, such as fluttering its tail. They also have keen scenes of smell. Eastern gray squirrels are also hoarders; by hoarding food in several small caches. Some caches are temporary and the food can be retrieved within hours or days. Others are permanent and are not retrieved until months later. They are estimated to make several thousand caches each season, having accurate memories for the location of these caches, also using distinct landmarks for retrieval. Eastern gray squirrels are also well known for pretending to bury food when they feel like they are being watched, they prepare the spot as they normally would, only mimicking the placement of the food while actually concealing it in their mouths, then covering up the cache as if they had place the food there.       

Eastern gray squirrels can produce 2 litters a year, which usually occurs between December through February and May and June, averaging 1 to 7 young each litter, but can have up to 7. Their gestational period is approximately 44 days long. When the young are born they are blind, fur - less, deaf and helpless. Their eyes begin to open around 24 to 30 days. Their ears begin to open around 2 to 6 days and their fur begins to grow at day 7. The mother begins to start weaning them at 7 weeks and by 10 weeks old they are completely weaned.

Eastern gray squirrels are known to carry diseases and parasites such as lice, mites, protozoa, fleas, acanthocephala, mematoda and cestoda. The one disease that eastern gray squirrels are known to be carries of, which can be transmitted to humans is a form of typhus.

Eastern gray squirrels cause damage to plants, trees ornamentals as well as plastic items such as piping, electrical wiring, insulation, wood siding, exterior and interior walls, on homes or building because of their desire to gnaw objects.

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