Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel: (Sciurus niger)

The fox squirrel (sciurus niger), belongs to the sciuridae family. Fox squirrels average between 17 to 27 inches long and weigh between 1 to 2.2 pounds. They have a long busy tail between 2 to 3 inches long.

Fox squirrels have variation of color patterns which consist of the upper body is brown - gray to a brown yellow or black and brown. Its under - parts are usually a brownish orange color. Their eyes are large and black. Their ears are long and lightly furred. They long sharp claws on both their front and back paws to help with climbing.

Fox squirrels are found throughout Florida. They inhibit areas that are in open woods, like pine and cypress stands and mangrove swamps. This also includes residential areas that have or are near open wooded areas.

Fox squirrels are omnivores, meaning they consume both plant and animals. Consuming a variety of nuts, berries, fruit, seeds and buds, insects, birds eggs and nestlings, fungi, mushrooms. 

Fox squirrels are diurnal, strictly active during the day, spending most of its time on the ground, even though they are excellent climbers. Fox squirrels construct two dens, depending on the environment. Their summer dens are platforms of twigs and sticks, high in the tree branches. The winter dens are in hollowed out trees or tree trunks. Fox squirrels are not territorial and are often found chasing each other across yards, up and down trees and open fields. Fox squirrels communicate using vocals, postures and movements like fluttering its tail. They bark, chatter and emits dis-stress screams. Fox squirrels also have keen scenes of sight, smell and hearing. Their home ranges vary in size depending on the environment they are in. The males have larger home ranges than the females do. They will threaten one another by standing straight up on its hind feet taking a firm stance with the tail over their back, quickly whipping its tail. Fox 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. Fox 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.           

Fox squirrels can any time throughout the year, peeking between December and June, averaging 1 to 3 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. Their fur begins to grow around 7 days. Their eyes begin to open around 5 weeks. The young are completely weaned from their mothers by 8 weeks old.

Fox 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.

Fox 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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