A Field Guide to the Tree Squirrel

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EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) Adult length and weight: 17 to 20 inches, one to 1-3/4 pounds.
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DOUGLAS SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus douglasii) Adult length and weight: Same as the red squirrel.
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FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger) Adult length and weight: To nearly 30 inches and 3 pounds.
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Map of the natural habitats of tree squirrels in the U.S.
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RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) Adult length and weight: Under 16 inches, about 1/2 pound (average).
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ABERT SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti) Adult length and weight: 18 to 23 inches, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.

As autumn descends on us, the slow baring of the trees opens a window to the activities of some of the most common and fascinating wild mammals of North America. (See the tree squirrel illustrations in the image gallery.)

Among both hunters and amateur naturalists, the squirrels
(family Sciuridae) make up one of the most popular groups
of wild creatures on this continent. These little animals
are highly adaptable, and most species have proven able to
survive, and even thrive, in areas where human destruction
of habitat has long since eliminated less opportunistic
mammals. They can be seen dancing limb to limb in city
parks and on wilderness hillsides from coast to coast,
and-being a very diverse bunch include not only the
tree squirrels, but also such seemingly dissimilar
animals as chipmunks, woodchucks, flying squirrels, prairie
dogs, marmots, and ground squirrels.

Still, to most of us, squirrel means one of the
bushy-tailed tree dwellers. (In fact, the family name
translates as “shade tail,” a reference to the arboreal
species’ habit of curling their tails over their backs.)
These are the squirrels most commonly admired by students
of nature and most often transformed into tasty meals by
hunters.

Whether your chosen activity is observation or pursuit,
your success and satisfaction will be increased if you take
the time to learn about your quarry through this field guide to the tree squirrel. So, to add to the fun
you’ll find in squirrel watching or hunting, we’ve prepared
the following guide to the more common tree squirrels of
North America.