A Field Guide to Tree Squirrels

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ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) Adult length and weight: 17 to 20 inches, 1 to 1-3/4 lbs.

Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 95. 

The tree squirrel field guide gives you information to correctly indentify many of the common tree squirrels found in the United States.

A Field Guide to Tree Squirrels

Among both hunters and amateur naturalists, the squirrels
(family Sciuridae) make up one of the most popular groups
of wild creatures on this continent. Tree squirrels 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 (or
groundhogs), flying squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, and
ground squirrels.

Still, to most of us, squirrels means one of the
bushy-tailed tree dwellers. (In fact, the family name
translates as “shade tail.”) These are the tree 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. 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. (See the full illustration list of tree squirrels and United States squirrel habitat map in the image gallery).