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Mammals » MEDIUM
Eastern Fox Squirrel (Hunted)

Eastern Fox Squirrel (Hunted)
Sciurus niger

This tree squirrel is found state-wide and is a popular game species.

Description
: A large tree squirrel with a characteristically long, bushy tail. Eastern Fox Squirrels vary greatly in color, but usually have gray and black (sometimes all black) hair on their backs with an orange-colored belly (similar to a Gray Fox). The orange color may extend to the feet, cheeks, around the ears, and to the edges of their tail. The face has a square-looking profile and usually has white on the nose. Males and females are similar in coloration. Young have a deeper reddish-orange belly color.
Length: 19 - 29 inches
Tail: 7 - 14 inches
Ear: 0.8 - 1.3 inches
Weight: 1 - 3 pounds

Similar Species:
Eastern Gray Squirrel is smaller in size, white underneath, more grayish on the back, thinner in facial profile, and has a tail with white edges.

Habitat
: Mostly found in mature hardwood forests, but prefers oak/hickory forests and commonly found along upland ridges.

Diet:
Will eat a variety of foods, but mainly nuts of hickory, oak, walnut, elm, mulberry, and pecan trees. Also, field corn is an important part of their diet if available.

Breeding information:
Males chase each other in territorial disputes and males chase females during courtship. Mating usually takes place twice a year, during mid-winter and summer. Females are pregnant 44-45 days, which means most litters are born in February or March, and July or August. Litters may be as large as 8 young, but most average 2-3. Young are born hairless with closed eyes and ears, but have well developed claws. The female takes care of the young until they are weaned at 8 weeks of age.

Status in Tennessee:
The Eastern Fox Squirrel is common in suitable habitat across the state, and is not a species of conservation concern.

Fun Facts
:

  • The bones of the Eastern Fox Squirrel are pink, while the bones of the similar Eastern Gray Squirrel are white.
  • Rapid jerks of the tail signal that they are nervous or upset.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Mature oak/hickory forests.

For more information:

Sources:
Schwartz, C.W. and E.R. Schwartz. 2001. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2nd Edition. University of Missouri Press and Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO.