Friday, June 27, 2014

Fox Squirrels

Squirrels have always been a common yard mammal at Blue Jay Barrens.  Gray Squirrels normally dominate, but during the past year, Fox Squirrels have risen to be masters of the open spaces.

The Fox Squirrel, shown at left in the photo above, is a slightly larger version of the well known Gray Squirrel.  The most noticeable difference is in the coloration.  Fox Squirrels display an abundance of rusty red colored hair on the face, legs, belly and especially on the tail.  Both species have similar dietary preferences, so are often attracted to backyard feeders.

Fox Squirrels prefer a more open habitat than do the Gray Squirrels.  They will often leave the shelter of a tree to forage far out into an open field.  They are also not as ambitious as the Gray Squirrel when it comes to accessing a food source.  While a Gray Squirrel will make every effort to reach a feeder full of delectable food items, the Fox Squirrel is content to stay on the ground and take whatever comes its way.

In fact, Fox Squirrels often appear to be downright lazy.  Why bother holding up your body when you can stretch out and take it easy?

A prone position certainly keeps the food close to the mouth.

When the temperature begins to rise, take advantage of any available cooling shade.  The feeder casts a perfect squirrel sized shadow.

With a little care you can stretch out and still avoid the heat.

On a really hot afternoon, a nice shady perch above the water pan may be a prime location.

When the air begins to cool in the evening, it’s time to retire to the cavity exposed at the top of the dead tree stump.  The Fox Squirrel is an excellent example of how to avoid the ill effects of a hot summer day.  The size of mammal populations is always changing.  It’s best to enjoy those animals that suddenly appear in abundance.  You never know how long they are going to stay or what may one day take their place.


  1. I lived in Niles, Ohio until 1976. This is exactly the subspecies and coloration of fox squirrel we had in our yard. I never saw a gray squirrel in Niles.

    I've lived in Georgia ever since. Gray squirrels are abundant here, but I've only seen 1 fox squirrel in almost 40 years.

  2. Hi Mark. I've lived many places and the Fox Squirrels were always a rarity. This is the first time I've been able to observe them in groups.