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Gray Squirrels

The gray squirrels diet consists of nuts, seeds and fruit. It will eat bird eggs, bugs, and even an animal carcass if there is no other food source available.

The gray squirrel requires some salt in its diet, and may find this salt in the soil along roads where snow and ice may have been.

Squirrels chew on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth. That's why you may see many small branches on the ground around large trees.

Gray Squirrels

The gray squirrel's natural home is the oak, hickory and walnut forests of eastern North America, where its numbers are controlled by owls, foxes and bobcats.

The gray squirrel feeds on seeds and nuts -- an adult gray squirrel takes about 80 g (2 3/4 oz) of shelled nuts each day -- and on eggs, young birds and insects. Occasionally gray squirrels strip the bark from young trees to gain access to the nutritious sap beneath. Two litters are produced each year, in early spring and summer.

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There are up to 7 young in a litter, but usually only 3 or 4 survive. Males are excluded from the nest and take no part in rearing the young. In the south of England, the introduced gray squirrel is ousting the native red squirrel.

What do Gray Squirrels look like?

Gray squirrels are bushy tailed rodents with a mixture of brown, black, and white fur which when viewed from a distance blend together to look gray. Their belly fur is white or light gray. Some gray squirrels are black, a color phase that can be common in some locales. Their bodies are 16-20 inches long and they weigh up to 1 ½ pounds.

Where are Gray Squirrels found?

Gray squirrels are found throughout Maryland in mixed hardwood forests as well as in suburban and urban areas. They prefer forests with mature, nut producing trees such as oak and walnut. Gray squirrels will use old woodpecker holes or natural cavities as dens to live in and raise young. They will also build large nests composed of leaves and twigs. Gray squirrels have adjusted well to manmade changes to the landscape and are a familiar animal in neighborhoods and city parks.

What do Gray Squirrels eat?

The gray squirrel has a varied diet with mast crops (acorns, walnuts, beechnuts, etc.) being a very important component. Other food items include seeds, fruits, insects, fungi, and occasional bird eggs and bird nestlings. At the end of the summer, gray squirrels will store seeds and nuts to feed on when food is scarce during the winter months. So if you learn how to cook a pecan pie for the holidays be sure to save some extra pecans for the squirrels in your yard. The left over pecans from your pie recipe may become one of your squirrel's favorite foods.

I didn't know that!

On some occasions, during the fall, large numbers of gray squirrels will search for new places to live. It is thought that this behavior, known as emigration, results when squirrel numbers are high and food is scarce. When mature forests covered most of eastern North America, this mass movement of squirrels was quite spectacular.

The conspicuous bushy tail of the gray squirrel has many uses. It is used for balance, a blanket, an umbrella, parachute, and communication.



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