Gray Squirrel Paw Print


Gray Squirrel:

The gray squirrel is a medium sized, slender tree squirrel, distinguished from the fox squirrel by its grayer back, white under parts, silver edging of the tail, smaller size and more slender facial profile.  The eyes are so located on the head that the squirrel has a 40 degree binocular vision and good lateral sight.  This helps the squirrel judge distance and depth while jumping and traveling through the trees at high speed. Lifespan in the wild averages 6 years.

Gray squirrels usually live most of their lives in and around one nest tree, having a small home range, but may have a number of auxiliary nests in an area to move to as flea infestations become intolerable.  They may also get into attics of homes, causing mild dismay to the other inhabitants. Gray squirrels are diurnal,  rising at first light, foraging and feeding for awhile and napping through the heat  of the afternoon, then foraging again in the late afternoon.  They spend a lot of time on the ground, foraging and storing their loot.  The big bushy tail serves as a balance in jumping, climbing and running among the tree branches, as well as signaling agitation and aggression.  It is also an umbrella for shade in the sunlight and provides warmth in the winter.  Gray squirrels are fairly social and live in loose colonies, recognize who “belongs”, and may den up together for warmth during cold weather.  They do not hibernate during the winter, although they will become less active during inclement weather.  Gray squirrels have many vocalizations and distinct body language to indicate such things as fear, stress, contentment, agitation and aggression. 

Gray squirrels may have two litters a year.  The first is born between February and April, the second between August and September. 

Baby Gray Squirrel
Geographic Location

Southern Canada south to Florida; generally east of the Great Plains.

What To Do If You Find A Baby Squirrel:

A surprisingly high number of baby squirrel problems can be successfully resolved by reuniting to the baby with the mother squirrel.  If you have found a baby squirrel in the past few hours and the animal is not injured and shows no evidence of fly egg packets or maggots, the mother squirrel should be given the chance to retrieve the baby.  This can be accomplished by placing the baby in a small plastic container with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.  Line the container with a small washcloth or paper towel and nail it to the tree under which the squirrel was found, 5 or 6 feet off the ground.  The squirrel should be left in the container for 2 hours to allow the mother ample time to locate her missing young.  The mother is not apt to return if people dogs or cats are nearby.  No attempt should be made to feed the baby.  A hungry baby will cry for its mother and its crying will help the mother locate her young.  If the mother has not returned in a few hours, or if it is very cold bring the baby indoors and keep it warm (place container on a heating pad set to low).  Do not leave the baby out after dusk, for any reason.

Please call our clinic with any questions or if the mother does not return.

Young Gray Squirrel

The nest tree has been cut down or fallen

Leave a section of the tree containing leaf or cavity nest in the yard as near as possible to the original tree location and clear the area of any activity, allowing the mother sufficient time to retrieve her young. squirrels usually have alternate nests. Observe from indoors. Watching this retrieval process will melt the hardest hearts. Squirrel mothers are about the most diligent and solicitous in the wildlife kingdom. Incredible acts of bravado have often been reported to us. One mother squirrel upon finding her nest tree downed by a tree service, approached within 10 feet of an operating chain saw to retrieve her young. Because of the interdependence of squirrels within a particular community, i.e., denning up in groups to keep from freezing to death in bitterly cold weather, every effort should be made to reunite the mother with her young.


The Baby can not be reunited with its mother
If the mother is known to be dead or the baby squirrel is injured or the baby shows evidence of fly egg packets or maggots (see Enemies), please call the clinic to make arrangements to bring the baby in to the clinic where it can know the company of other squirrels, and it's diet can be carefully monitored and medical attention will be immediately available if problems should arise.

Squirrel Nests in Trees
What Not To Do

Trapping & removing squirrels is not always the solution to the problem.  Removing the animal is illegal without the proper permits and only creates an open space for another animal.  A trapped adult may also leave young behind to die of starvation in an inaccessible area. Focus on removing the attraction, not the animal. 

Never move young from the den. 

Do not use poisons.  They are inhumane and may be illegal.  They can result in secondary poisoning to raptors, wild scavengers and neighborhood pets. 

It is illegal to keep wild animals, even or a short time.  They have specialized nutritional, housing and handling needs that you are unlikely to be able to provide.  Inexperienced individuals who attempt to raise or treat them inevitably produce unhealthy, tame animals that cannot survive in their natural habitat.

Adult Gray Squirrel peeking out of his house

Preventing Problems

Do not encourage squirrels by feeding them close to your house. 

Keep pet food and water dishes inside. 

Do not allow spillage to accumulate outside birdfeeders. 

Keep grills and barbeque pits clean.  Even a small amount of food scraps may attract squirrels and other wild animals

Trim tree limbs that allow access to your roof.

Repair broken, weak or rotted areas on your roof, soffit and fascia.

Install and maintain chimney caps before animals move into your chimney. 

Use welded wire on the inside of attic vents to prevent access to the attic if the covers are removed.