There are two tree squirrels found in Texas; the Eastern Gray and Eastern Fox squirrels. Both squirrels look similar. Fox squirrels are a bit larger than the gray, measuring about 52 centimeters with their tail accounting for almost half of that length, compared to the gray squirrel which is about 46 centimeters from head to tail. Aside from difference in size, they also have different colored fur. Fox squirrels are much brighter with cinnamon-orange hair on their underside and tail and grayish brown hair on their back. Gray squirrels are plainer in color with a pale underside and grayish brown back and tail.
They live in woodland areas with trees to climb and nest. Tree squirrels are diurnal, which means they are most active and awake during the day. Squirrels will sleep in hollow trees when they are available but will also build nests in trees to raise their young. A squirrel nest, known as a drey is a round shape made of twigs and leaves, like a large bird nest. They have long claws to climb the trees, and they use their tail to help balance when moving along branches.
They can be mischievous and steal food from bird feeders.
Squirrels are well known for storing food for the winter in food caches. In the fall, they will dig a hole and bury their food underground. Once winter comes, they can smell the food buried under up to one foot of snow. Squirrels store many nuts in the fall and sometimes will not eat them all. This is very important for the environment, because nuts, seeds that are not eaten will grow into new trees.
They can have 2 litters a year. The young (called kits or kittens), usually 3 - 4 to a litter, are born naked, blind and helpless. Just three months later, however, they can survive on their own.
Three Fun Facts About Squirrels
- Squirrels will adopt other squirrels’ babies if they are abandoned.
- Squirrels can rotate their ankles 180 degrees, can see peripherally in perfect vision, and greet their nest-mates by nuzzling and ‘kissing’ at the end of the day.
- When a squirrel feels it is being watched it may deceptively pretend to bury an object then hide the object in its mouth to bury it somewhere else.
Despite squirrels’ many likeable attributes, some people don’t appreciate it when squirrels raid their vegetable gardens or tear holes in the roofs of their homes to build nests. Fortunately for squirrels and us, there are numerous ways to prevent these curious animals from damaging property without harming them in any way.
If squirrels are digging up your yard in search of food, you can discourage them by planting non-edible flowers, such as daffodils, or laying a wire mesh over the soil after planting. The mesh must have openings big enough for the bulbs to grow through but too small for squirrels to dig into.
To prevent squirrels and other animals from frequenting areas of concern, you should explore ways to make the area undesirable by ensuring that there are no food sources available. Always keep garbage containers sealed and put your trash out only on the collection day.
How to keep squirrels out of the house
Squirrels give birth at different times of the year, and they often use attics, chimneys, sheds, or openings under porches and buildings as dens to raise their young. In order to avoid separating young squirrels from their parents, squirrels should not be evicted until the breeding season has ended.
After the end of the season begin by thoroughly inspecting attics and eaves to find openings where the squirrels enter and exit, concentrating your efforts on areas where noises have been heard.
If you find a nest and there are no young squirrels, attempt to encourage the squirrels to go outside by placing a radio inside the attic, along with several ammonia-soaked rags and/or a portable lamp.
When you are sure that the squirrel or squirrels have left, close the opening.
Also, trim overhanging limbs to prevent access to your home.