Our Wild Neighbors

Eastern Grey Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis

A regular in Canadian urban parks

Image of an Eastern Grey Squirrel, mounted as if descending a white birch tree, with its head down and tail extended.

Description of the animal

  • Large fluffy tail, which accounts for half its size.
  • Two pairs of incisors that are constantly growing, like all rodents.
  • Grey fur usually, except in the northern part of its range in Ontario and Quebec where it is almost black. A litter of baby squirrels can be of different colours (grey and black).
  • Size: rarely more than 55 centimetres, including its tail. The Eastern Grey Squirrel is smaller than the Fox Squirrel whose length can reach 70 centimetres.

Habitat and needs

  • Does not hibernate. The Eastern Grey Squirrel is active in both summer and winter.
  • Spends more time in trees than the Fox Squirrel.
  • Its diet varies according to the season. The Eastern Grey Squirrel eats one kilogram of buds, insects, nuts, mushrooms, berries, and seeds per week.
  • Nests in trees found in parks and backyards, far from its main predators namely martens, minks, fishers, coyotes, and birds of prey.

Relationship

  • The Eastern Grey Squirrel brings urban scenery to life.
  • An indigenous species in Ontario and Quebec, it has been introduced in Central and Western Canada as has the Fox Squirrel.
  • Contributes to deciduous tree reforestation.
  • The Eastern Grey Squirrel causes problems when it invades people’s attics, digs up flower bulbs, and empties birdfeeders.

Living with them

  • Even if it is very tempting, avoid feeding the Eastern Grey Squirrel so it doesn’t become dependent.
  • Make birdfeeders inaccessible to the Eastern Grey Squirrel by coating poles with Vaseline.
  • To protect flower bulbs or buried electrical wires, sprinkle repellent.
  • Keep a net near swimming pools; the Eastern Grey Squirrel could inadvertently fall in.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen