Grey Squirrel fact file
The Grey Squirrel
- Common name – grey squirrel
- Scientific name – Sciurus carolinensis
- Size – body length of approximately 25cm, with an additional tail length of around 20cm
Identification tips – body colour grey with a much paler, sometimes white, chest. The back often shows a gingery-brown patch and sometimes this extends down the sides of the body. The bushy tail can be a mixture of grey, gingery-brown and black.
The sides of the face are often a browny colour rather than grey, and the eyes are black.
Preferred habitat – Grey squirrels are tree dwellers, so woodlands of all types. They will readily approach gardens of houses close to wooded areas, looking for food.
Diet – nuts, acorns, berries and fruits from trees, fresh plant shoots and buds. Bird eggs are taken where possible, as are baby birds, from the nests.
Breeding – female grey squirrels give birth twice a year to litters of between 3 and 7 kittens. They nest in ‘dreys’, football-sized nests made from small twigs and branches high up in the tree.
Other points – Grey squirrels are widespread and are easily seen during a walk through the wooded areas of the New Forest. The easiest place to spot them is around the base of trees. When disturbed, they move quickly and will disappear into the tree canopy, never staying still for very long.
They can often be heard – a short, sharp ‘clicking’ sound is the most common noise that a grey squirrel makes.
Grey squirrels are seen as pests by many, and are culled by the Forestry Commission because of the damage that they can do to tree bark and the natural wildlife eg taking bird’s eggs or chicks from nests.