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With their bushy tails and scampering movements, squirrels are among the most recognized and widespread mammals globally. Often seen playfully darting across parks, gardens, and forests, these creatures are admired for their agility and are often labeled pests due to their invasive habits. While squirrels play a pivotal role in forest ecology, particularly in seed dispersal, their presence can sometimes be troublesome for homeowners.


Typically small to medium-sized rodents, squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family. Their most distinct feature is their large bushy tail, which they use for balance, communication, and warmth. Squirrels possess sharp claws ideal for climbing trees, and their strong hind legs allow them to make large jumps. While fur coloration varies among species, it ranges from gray, brown, or reddish-brown, often with lighter underbellies. Their sharp incisors continuously grow, requiring regular gnawing to prevent overgrowth.

Common Squirrels Species

Eastern Gray Squirrel

The Eastern Gray Squirrel, as the name suggests, predominantly has a gray coat, although some can be brownish-gray or even black. Native to the eastern and midwestern United States, these squirrels are often seen in woodlands, urban parks, and gardens. They are expert climbers with bushy tails and white underbellies and often hoard acorns for the winter.

American Red Squirrel

Smaller than the gray squirrel, the American Red Squirrel showcases a reddish-brown coat and a white underbelly. These squirrels prefer coniferous forests found throughout Alaska, the eastern portions of Canada, and the northeastern United States. They are territorial and known for their loud chattering sounds.

Fox Squirrel

The largest of the tree squirrels in North America, the Fox Squirrel is distinguishable by its reddish-brown to gray coat, with a notably bushy tail. They prefer open woodlands, often seen in city parks and large gardens. Their diet includes acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and tree buds.

Abert’s Squirrel

Easily recognizable by its tufted ears, the Abert’s Squirrel has a gray to dark brown coat. Native to the mountainous regions of the southwestern United States, they predominantly feed on the seeds and twigs of ponderosa pines.

Western Gray Squirrel

The Western Gray Squirrel sports a distinct silvery-gray coat and a notably white underbelly. Predominantly found in the western regions of the U.S., particularly in California, they prefer oak woodlands and are known for their larger size and bushier tail compared to the Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Arizona Gray Squirrel

Native to parts of Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico, the Arizona Gray Squirrel is typically found along streams in canyon areas. They have a gray back with a reddish-brown hue on the belly and tail.

Douglas Squirrel

A small tree squirrel native to the Pacific coastal states, the Douglas Squirrel sports a reddish or brownish coat, with variations occurring between its summer and winter fur. They primarily feed on pine seeds and are known for their noisy calls.

Flying Squirrels

Contrary to the name, these squirrels don't truly fly but glide using a flap of skin called the patagium. They are nocturnal and possess large eyes to aid their nighttime activities.

  • Northern Flying Squirrel: This species prefers dense woodlands found in northern North America. They have a gray-brown coat and are smaller than the Southern variety.
  • Southern Flying Squirrel: Inhabiting the eastern part of the U.S., these squirrels have a grayish-brown coat with a white underbelly. They're known to be more sociable than their Northern counterparts and often share nests in colder climates.
  • Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel: This recently identified species is native to the Pacific Northwest. It's very similar in appearance to the Northern Flying Squirrel but is genetically distinct.


Squirrels are highly adaptable creatures and can be found in diverse habitats. While most dwell in forests, preferring areas abundant in oak, pine, and hickory trees, others have adapted to suburban and urban environments. Depending on the species, squirrels may establish nests, called “dreys,” in tree branches, within tree trunks, or even in attics and isolated areas of buildings in urban locales.


Renowned for their appetite for nuts, squirrels play a pivotal role in tree propagation through their forgetfulness; they often bury nuts and forget them, leading to new tree growth. Besides nuts, their diet includes fruits, seeds, buds, and even some small insects. In urban settings, squirrels rummage through garbage and bird feeders, searching for food.


How to eliminate Squirrels

  • Tree Pruning: Limit their access to buildings by pruning tree branches too close to your home.
  • Secure Trash Bins: Ensure garbage cans are securely sealed to prevent squirrels from scavenging.
  • Limit Bird Feeders: If squirrels are a concern, consider placing bird feeders away from the house or using squirrel-proof designs.
  • Seal Entry Points: Check for openings or crevices in your home’s exterior and seal them to block potential entry points.
  • Professional Assistance: Consult with pest control professionals if you suspect infestations or for preventive measures.


Are squirrels dangerous?

While typically non-aggressive, squirrels can bite or scratch if they feel threatened. Some might carry diseases, so it's best not to attempt to handle them without professional guidance.

Do squirrels hibernate?

While some species enter a deep sleep during colder months, most tree squirrels remain active, gathering and storing food for the winter.

Why do squirrels dig in my garden?

Squirrels often dig to bury food, such as nuts, for later consumption. This behavior, called caching, ensures they have a food supply during leaner times.

What should I do if a squirrel is in my attic?

Squirrels seek warm places to nest, and attics can be inviting. Consult a pest control professional or wildlife expert if you suspect an infestation.

Are squirrels nocturnal?

Most squirrel species are diurnal, meaning they're active during the day and rest at night. If you hear nighttime activity, it might be a different pest or a nocturnal rodent.

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