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fox squirrel (Sciurus niger vulpinus)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

They are larger than the gray squirrel, and smaller than the typical niger with the coloration less variable, buff brown dorsally, and white ventrally, with the tail grayish-white above, orange below, and the top of head black. They have a flatter forehead than the gray squirrel. The average total length of 3 Virginia specimens is 545-618 mm, and the average weight is 750-950 grams (1 1/5 - 3 lbs.). One to two litters of 3-4 young are born each year. There are 2 types of nests: The leaf nest is a loose mass of leaves and twigs and the den is a cavity. They are found at heights from 11-62 feet above the ground. They use leaf nests more than gray squirrel, and may use 1-3 shelters within the territory. They are diurnal and forage largely on the ground. They may become inactive during winter cold periods but there is no hibernation.

Distribution

This subscpecies is relatively common in most counties west of the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia. A specimen typical of this subspecies was reported from Southampton County. This species makes dens in decayed-out areas of trees and limbs. They use open woodlots with clearings interspersed, and unbroken forest is unsuitable. It often lives along forest borders, ideally in small stands of large trees interspersed with agricultural lands.

Foods

This species is primarily a herbivore, but does consume some insects (adults and larvae) and bird eggs. Soybeans are used as an auxiliary food. This species stores nuts, and other food for later retrieval by burying it shallowly. Succulent vegetation will normally satisfy their moisture requirements.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).