Western Gray Squirrel
Tree squirrels are the acrobats of the forests as they can often be seen hopping from tree to tree. They are territorial and will defend their territory from intruders. They establish territories of a size that will provide the necessities for survival: shelter and protection, food and water. They nest in trees, occasionally enlarging a woodpecker hole or an existing tree cavity. The nest is made of sticks and is a completely enclosed chamber.
- A large, slender, silver-gray squirrel. An upraised tail is conspicuously bushy and edged with a salt & pepper appearance to dorsal fur; under parts white. It is very strongly muscled used for tree climbing; sharp claws on all feet also aid in climbing.
- About 20 inches overall; weighs 1 ½ -2 lbs.
- In foothill woodlands and open coniferous forests; from sea level to 8500’; from WA south to Baja CA
- Throughout most of CA, except extremely high mountains and southeastern desert
- They lack cheek pouches, so they usually consume food where it is found, foraging in trees and on the ground. They eat a broad variety of fruit, green foliage, seeds of pine, oak & CA bay. They also feed heavily on fungi that constitute a large part of their diet. Fungi are a heavy, solid and highly nutritious food.
- One or two litters per year, depending upon food supply. Litters vary from 2-6 young, born in spring but appearing in early summer when they are half grown. Large nests are made of leaves; high in trees (at least 20’ above ground).
- Voice a variety of hoarse, rough, coughing or barking sounds. Western gray squirrels are diurnal (daytime) and active all year, though they will hide in trees during bad weather. In winter their footprints can be seen in the snow in Long Valley and around the Mountain Station.