Squirrel, Eastern Fox
The Eastern Fox Squirrel is the largest tree squirrel. It occurs in three distinct color patterns. In the northeastern part of its range, it has a gray body with a yellowish belly. In the western part, it is gray above and rust colored on its undersides. In the southern parts of its range, it is black with a white stripe on its face and a white tip on its tail.
Their tail is large and bushy tail with yellow-tips to their hairs.
Eastern Fox Squirrels grow to be 17.5-28in (454–698mm) in length and their tail adds an additional 7.5-13in (200–330mm). They weigh on average 17.5-37.5oz (504–1,062g).
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a similar species but smaller and has silvery-tipped tail hairs.
The Eastern Fox Squirrel lives in deciduous and mixed forests and they are particularly fond of particularly oak-hickorywoods. They can also be found in cypress and mangrove swamps.
They are abundant in the eastern and central United States west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas. They are however not found in New England, most of New Jersey, western New York and northern and eastern Pennsylvania. Their range does also extend into northern Mexico and southern Canada.
The Eastern Fox Squirrel’s meat is dark in color and has a similar taste to dark chicken meat, but with a stronger musky flavor. The meat is very lean and firm.
The Eastern Fox Squirrel’s diet consists of acorns, hickory, walnut, beech, mulberry and hawthorne seeds. It also eats green shoots and buds, fruits, berries, corn, insects, moths and beetles. They commonly store nuts as a reserve for use in the winter. It uses its acute sense of smell to locate its stashes.
The Eastern Fox Squirrel is a solitary animal, but it will share its feeding area with other squirrels. It spends a large part of the day eating and gathering and storing food. It usually nests in a tree hollow but if it can't find one it constructs a leaf nest in a tree.
They mate anytime during the year, but the most preferred time is between December and June. Males compete for a female by chasing after her and the successful partner will then protect the female from the other males. The female gives birth to a litter of 2-4 young 45 days after mating, usually in a hollow tree nest. The kits are born naked and blind and their eyes only open when they are five weeks old. They are weaned at eight weeks during which time they also begin to climb about the tree. They however only venture to the ground when they are about ten weeks old. They become independent when they are about three months old.
A female can raise 2 litters in a year.
Eastern Fox Squirrels escape into trees when there is danger or when they are threatened. They will use their long bushy tail to swat away an offender and they accompany this with a series of barks. Hawks and numerous other mammals prey upon them and the young are particularly vulnerable. They are also frequently struck by vehicles.
They normally do not live past six years of age.
Eastern Fox Squirrel
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