Squirrel Species of New York (Upstate)

<< Back to New York Wildlife < Mammals

About Squirrels

Red Squirrel

The American Red Squirrels specializes in conifer seeds.

Members of the Sciuridae family, commonly referred to as squirrels, are rodents. The rodent’s characteristically large, paired, and continuously growing incisors are perfectly adapted for crunching on nuts and wood and must be kept short by continuous gnawing. Rodents make up just over 40% of the total mammalian species on earth. Squirrels make up a significant portion of that, and certainly are the most diverse family of mammals. They can be found around the world, with the exception of Antarctica.

Squirrels are easily identified by their long bushy tails, pointed ears and cheek pouches (used for temporary food storage). Squirrels can be categorized into 3 groups: Flying Squirrels are arboreal and have furred membranes that aid in gliding. Tree Squirrels are adapted for climbing trees, with sharp claws and long bushy tails. Ground Squirrels are generally more robust and tend to have less bushy tails. All squirrels have 4 clawed toes on the forelimbs and 5 clawed toes on the hind limbs.

Some interesting facts:

♦  Squirrels will bite off the germinating end of a nut prior to burying it to prevent it from growing.

♦ They usually maintain several dens in case one is found by a predator.

♦ They don’t use their memory, but sight and smell to locate buried nuts in the winter. The nuts they find aren’t necessarily the nuts they buried and they don’t recover most of what they do bury.

♦ They use scent markings, vocal calls and tail flicks to communicate with each other. A tail raised above the body and flicked is usually a sign of aggression.

♦ Although not generally social, they will call out loudly to warn others of predators.

♦ A Woodchuck (or Groundhog) is indeed a ground squirrel.

♦ How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Actually, woodchucks feed on bark and twigs only if food is scarce. In our region, mowed lawns are an all-you-can-eat buffet for the woodchuck.

Squirrel Books and Field Guides

Humane Capture / Control for Squirrels

 

Squirrel Feeders and Homes


New York State Squirrel Species Identification Guide

Eastern ChipmunkEastern ChipmunkFind more images

Eastern Chipmunk
(Tamias striatus)

Identifying characteristics: The smallest of our native squirrels, the chipmunk is also the easiest to identify. Reddish-brown in color with 5 distinct black stripes down their back. In-between the black stripes are stripes of a lighter (white or brown or gray) color. A similar, but lighter, striping pattern runs from their nose, past their eyes to their ears. The underbelly is usually a lighter color. Their tails are dark and furry, but not as bushy as other squirrels. Their cheek pouches are large and can protrude greatly when full.

Size: From 8.5 to 11 inches in length and weighing about 4.5 oz.

Habitat: Lightly forested areas adjacent to open spaces and areas with nut-producing trees. Parks and yards with plenty of ground debris. They dig their own burrows (sometimes 30 feet deep) into the ground and conceal the multiple entrances with leaves or stones.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily nuts and seeds, but also other vegetation, mushrooms, fruit and corn. They will also eat mollusks, insects, eggs and smaller mammals. Often found in the branches of trees harvesting nuts. They store massive quantities of food in their den for the winter.

Vocalization: Chucks and repetitive, rapid chip noises (sometimes done in chorus) for which the animal got its name.

Predators: Snakes, foxes, birds of prey, weasels.

Reproduction: Litter size average 4 with 2 litters a year. Mating seasons are Feb-April and June-Aug. Young stay with their mother for 6 weeks.

Other Info.: Primarily diurnal and solitary. They aggressively defend their home territory, which may be only several feet around their burrow entrances. They do not hibernate continuously, periodically waking to snack and replenish their fat supply. Although they are essentially a ground squirrel, they are very good climbers and can scurry up and around trees very quickly.

Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

Northern Flying SquirrelNorthern Flying SquirrelFind more images

Northern Flying Squirrel
(Glaucomys sabrinus)

Identifying characteristics: They have thick cinnamon fur on their upper body, becoming more grey on the sides and have white fur on their undersides. A furry membrane stretches from the wrist of their front limbs to the ankles on each side, forming a wing-like apparatus, allowing the squirrel to glide from tree to tree. Their eyes are large (adapted for night vision) and their tails are flat and long (about 80% as long as the rest of their body). The Southern Flying Squirrel is different in that it is smaller and the belly tends to lack the gray hair.

Size: From 11 to 14 inches in length and weighing about 4.7 oz.

Habitat: Primarily coniferous forests, but also found in deciduous and mixed forests. Winter nests are cavities up in trees (most likely woodpecker holes) and summer nests are built on branches from bark, twigs and lined with feathers, fur and pine needles.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily mushrooms and lichen, but also nuts, seeds, fruits, other vegetation, sap, and sometimes insects and bird eggs. They store massive quantities of food underground and in the den for the winter.

Vocalization: Low chirps and clucks.

Predators: Birds of prey, weasels, snakes, raccoons, domestic cats.

Reproduction: Litter size average 3 with 1 litter a year. Mating season is from March-May. Young stay with their mother for 3 months.

Other Info.: Primarily nocturnal and social, often found in groups of 8. They do not hibernate, but nest together to maintain body temperature in winter. They use their ability to glide to escape predation and avoid moving across the ground, where they are clumsy. When gliding they can reach distances up to 150 feet.



Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

Southern Flying SquirrelSouthern Flying SquirrelFind more images

Southern Flying Squirrel
(Glaucomys volans)

Identifying characteristics: They have thick, grayish-brown fur on their upper body and white fur on their undersides. There may be a dark band separating the two shades of fur. A furry membrane stretches from the wrist of their front limbs to the ankles on each side, forming a wing-like apparatus, allowing the squirrel to glide from tree to tree. Their eyes are large (adapted for night vision) and their tails are flat and long (about 80% as long as the rest of their body). The Northern Flying Squirrel is different in that it is larger, more brown in color, and the belly has grayish hair instead of white.

Size: From 8 to 10 inches in length and weighing about 2.4 oz.

Habitat: Deciduous or mixed forests with plenty of seed producing trees, such as maple, beech, hickory and oak. Winter nests are cavities up in trees (most likely woodpecker holes) and summer nests are built on tree branches out of twigs and bark and lined with shredded bark.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily nuts (especially hickory and acorn) and seeds, but also fruits, sap, other vegetation, flying insects, young birds and eggs, young mice, carrion, and fungus. They store massive quantities of food underground and in the den for the winter.

Vocalization: Low chirps and clucks.

Predators: Birds of prey, weasels, snakes, raccoons, domestic cats.

Reproduction: Litter size average 2.5 with 2 litters a year. Mating season is from Jan-April and again from June to Aug. Young stay with their mother for 4 months.

Other Info.: Primarily nocturnal and social, often found in pairs but for wintering, they may be found in groups of up to 20 in dens. They do not hibernate and nest together to maintain body temperature. They use their ability to glide to escape predation and avoid moving across the ground, where they are clumsy. When gliding they can reach distances up to 250 feet.



Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides. 

Eastern Fox SquirrelEastern Fox SquirrelFind more images

Eastern Fox Squirrel
(Sciurus niger)

Identifying characteristics: A medium-sized tree squirrel with grayish-brown fur above and light brownish-yellow bellow. The tail is large and bushy, roughly half of the total length of the squirrel.

Size: From 18 to 27 inches in length and weighing about 28 oz.

Habitat: Edges of deciduous and mixed forests, particularly oak and hickory. Areas with plenty of nuts and seeds and plenty of space in between trees. Urban parks are favorable. Dens will be in either holes in trees or nests made of leaves in the fork of a tree. They usually maintain multiple nests at once.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily nuts and seeds (such as acorn, hickory, walnut and mulberry), but also a variety of vegetation, flying insects, beetles, bird eggs and carrion. They store massive quantities of food scattered underground or in tree cavities for the winter.

Vocalization: Barks, chatters, chirps, distress screams.

Predators: Birds of prey, humans, weasels, snakes, domestic cats.

Reproduction: Litter size average 3 with 2 litters a year. Mating season is from Dec-Feb and then again from May-June. Young stay with their mother for 3 months.

Other Info.: Active mostly during the morning and late afternoon (diurnal). They are generally solitary and they do not hibernate, but may nest in small groups to maintain body temperature. Squirrel chases are frequent in mating season as one male usually tries to block other males from reaching his chosen mate.



Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

Eastern Gray SquirrelEastern Gray SquirrelFind more images

Eastern Gray Squirrel
(Sciurus carolinensis)

Identifying characteristics: A medium-sized tree squirrel with gray fur above and cream fur covering the under parts. The head, feet and tail may have a reddish tinge. The tail is large and bushy, roughly half of the total length of the squirrel. In urban areas (due to isolated populations and reduced predation) completely black variations may be spotted. They are differentiated from the Fox Squirrel by their smaller size and dominance of grey hair.

Size: From 15 to 21 inches in length and weigh about 19 oz.

Habitat: Large, mature, deciduous forests with plenty of ground cover and nut-producing trees. Often found in urban parks and backyards. Dens will be in either holes in trees or nests made of leaves in the fork of a tree. They usually maintain multiple nests at once. They will also invade attics and garages.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily nuts and seeds, but also a variety of vegetation (including flowers, buds, bulbs, fruit, pinecone seeds), crops (such as corn and wheat) and also insects and carrion. They store massive quantities of food scattered underground or in tree cavities for the winter.

Vocalization: Barks, chatters, chirps, distress screams.

Predators: Birds of prey, humans, weasels, snakes, raccoons, lynx, foxes, coyotes, domestic cats.

Reproduction: Litter size average 3 with 2 litters a year. Mating season is from Dec-Feb and then again from May-June. Young stay with their mother for 3 months.

Other Info.: Active mostly during the morning and late afternoon (diurnal) avoiding the hot portions of the day. They are generally solitary and they do not hibernate, but may nest in small groups to maintain body temperature. Squirrel chases are frequent in mating season as one male usually tries to block other males from reaching his chosen mate.



Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

Red SquirrelRed SquirrelFind more images

American Red Squirrel
(Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

AKA: Pine squirrel, Chickaree

Identifying characteristics: The smallest tree squirrel in our area with brownish-red to grayish-red fur above and white or grayish-white bellow. Dark lines may separate the reddish fur from the white fur of the belly. The tail is large and bushy, but not as bushy compared to other tree squirrels. Their large black eyes have white outlines.

Size: From 11 to 14 inches in length and weighing about 7 oz.

Habitat: Coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests. Nests are often built of grass or shredded bark within the branches of conifers, but will also be in tree cavities, built on a tree fork, or in garages and attics.

Food: Omnivorous. Primarily conifer seeds, nuts (such as acorn, beechnuts), fruit , but also a variety of vegetation (barks, buds, flowers), sap, insects, reptiles, bird eggs, mice. They store massive quantities of food scattered underground or in tree cavities for the winter.

Vocalization: Very vocal squirrels. Barks, chatters, chirps, distress screams.

Predators: Humans, birds of prey, lynx, weasels, snakes, foxes.

Reproduction: Litter size average 4 with up to 2 litters a year (if the weather is particularly warm). Mating season is usually during the spring thaw. Young stay with their mother for 40 days.

Other Info.: Active mostly during the morning and late afternoon (diurnal). They are generally solitary and they do not hibernate, but may nest in small groups to maintain body temperature. Squirrel chases are frequent in mating season as one male usually tries to block other males from reaching his chosen mate. A sure sign of a red squirrel is a conifer stripped of pine cones with pine cone debris scattered about.

Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

WoodchuckWoodchuckFind more images

Woodchuck
(Marmota monax)

AKA: Groundhog, Land beaver, Whistlepig, Marmot

Identifying characteristics: A large ground squirrel with a stubby and chunky body. The fur is a grizzled brown. The tail is bushy and a bit darker than the rest of the body. It is also smaller in proportion to other squirrels. The eyes are large and black and the ears are small and round.

Size: From 16 to 27 inches in length and weighing about 8 lbs.

Habitat: Meadows, pastures, old fields, farmland and wooded areas. Prefer grassland with close cover. Mowed lawns near wooded areas are preferred. Burrows are usually in sandy or soft soil and are used for escaping predators. Second burrows are often built below the frost line for hibernation. Nesting chambers are often lined with dry leaves.

Food: Herbivores. Primarily grasses, herbs, leaves, bark, buds and twigs. Will also eat farm crops such as corn and alfalfa.

Vocalization: Very vocal squirrels. They are known for their whistle which alerts other of threats (hence the name “Whistlepig”). Barks, squeals, and chirps are also common.

Predators: Humans, birds of prey, coyotes, lynx, weasels, snakes, foxes.

Reproduction: Litter size average 3-4 with 1 litter a year. Mating season is in spring. Young stay with their mother for 6 weeks.

Other Info.: Active mostly during the morning and late afternoon (diurnal). They are solitary and aggressive animals but may be found grazing in small groups and sharing burrows. Unlike other squirrels in our area, these hibernate in winter. Woodchucks are excellent climbers and swimmers and can often be spotted in trees if you look hard enough.

Distribution

Complete distribution

Found all over the state and neighboring states.

Status: common.

Tracks

Squirrel Tracks

Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.

Look for larger and longer hind legs with 5 clawed toes on the outsides and smaller, 4 clawed toes on the insides.

Recent Wildlife Discussion Topics

Recent Wildlife Topics error determining URL address with the following unresolved->/home4/e7f1r6x6/public_html

Contributors

Buy Finger Lakes Photos and Gifts
New York Historic
New York Historic

Explore the history of New York State from the comfort of your desktop. We are creating a photographic catalog of New York State historic sites. Post comments, answer trivia, and learn what has happened in your neck of the woods. NY Historic

Public Markets
Public Markets

Beautiful captures of people and products from markets around the world. From Rochester to the mountains of China. Check back for monthly updates from local Upstate New York Markets. Scenes from Public Markets

Buy Photos & Gifts
Buy Photos & Gifts

Like the photos you see here? Think they will look great on your wall, or be a perfect gift for someone you know? Select photos by photographer Matthew Conheady are available to purchase at discounted prices.
Buy New York Pictures.

More…
© 2013 Copyright Matthew Conheady • Photos belong to their owners • Privacy PolicyOur Advertisers