Gray (or Cat) Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis

Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger

The overall length of a gray squirrel is about 11 inches with an additional 8-10 inches added for its furry tail. Markings aren't necessary for locals to identify a gray squirrel as they are usually gray on the back and sides, whitish below; large, bushy tail. The fox squirrel is typically brownish, reddish, orange, or grizzled, and measures about 30 inches overall.

The preferred habitat of all squirrels is a medium sized tree in all environments. The feed mostly on nuts, flowers and buds of more than 24 species of oaks, 10 species of hickory, pecan, walnut and beech trees. Maple, mulberry, hackberry, elm, chestnut, bulbs, wild cherry, dogwood, hawthorn, black gum, hazelnut, hop hornbeam and gingko fruits are among their favorites and all are available in the coastal region.

Squirrels breed twice a year, an event accompanied by fights, chases, and other noisy activities. Late winter or spring litters are usually born in tree hollows; summer ones are born in leafy nests out along the branches of a tree.

Males take no role in raising the young. Squirrels do not hibernate.

It is amusing that much study has been made to interpret squirrel language. All squirrels are noisy and much vocalizations are probably idle chatter. Others have a specific meaning: Rapid jerks of the tail are a gesture of threat. Rapid waves of the tail are a sign of agitation. Holding the tail against the back means the danger has passed.

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