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Grey Squirrel

Appearance

The grey squirrel's fur is predominantly grey but it can have a reddish tinge. Its belly is white and it has a large bushy tail.

Habitat and Distribution

Common in deciduous and mixed woodland, they are also found in hedgerows, trees, parks and gardens.

They are widespread throughout England and Wales, south of Cumbria, and are common in local pockets in Scotland. They are absent from the rest of mainland Europe, except for small localised populations in Italy.

Home

Grey squirrels build a type of nest, known as a drey, in the forks of trees. The drey consists mainly of dry leaves and twigs. They may also build a nest in the attic or in the exterior walls of a house.

Family

Females produce a litter of usually three young in the spring or late summer (or occasionally both), after a gestation period of 42-45 days. The young are weaned after 10 weeks and are independent at 16 weeks.

Feeding Habits

The grey squirrel consumes a variety of foods, including insects, nestling birds, various seeds and acorns, walnuts, and other nuts.

The grey squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for re-burial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. It has been estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache.

They will raid bird feeders and are notorious for digging bulbs from gardens. Their reputation for these habits has led some to call them "tree rats" or "fuzzy-tailed sewer rats". Grey squirrels have a high tolerance for humans and inhabit residential neighborhoods and urban parks. Wild squirrels may even be enticed to accept food from people.

Enemies

Predators include humans, hawks, domestic and feral cats, foxes, and owls.
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Updated: 01/01/2017