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Eastern Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger


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Eastern Fox Squirrel
credit: Markus Krątzsch/CCSA

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Family: Sciuridae, Squirrels view all from this family

Description A large squirrel with a bushy tail edged with brown or orangish brown. Usually twice the size of the Eastern Gray Squirrel, with a more colorful coat and a brownish tinge to the tail. The most typical color phase has rusty-gray upperparts with a rusty- yellow or orange belly. Other color morphs include an all-black form, a southeastern form that is black or dark brown with a white nose and ears, and a gray form with rusty limbs, a black head and a white nose and ears.

Dimensions 45-70cm, 20-33cm, 696-1233g

Endangered Status The Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel, a subspecies of the Eastern Fox Squirrel, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. This squirrel once ranged throughout the Delmarva Peninsula. Naturally occurring populations are now found only in parts of Queen Anne's, Talbot, and Dorchester Counties in Maryland, although introduced populations occur elsewhere in Maryland, as well as Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. This subspecies requires a particular type of mixed hardwood and pine woodland, with a closed canopy and an open understory. It needs extensive forest-edge habitat, so the woodland must be fairly small in extent. Logging practices have altered this type of habitat in the fox squirrel's range, either by changing the nature of the canopy or the understory, or by replacing mixed stands with same-species plantings. Once the Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel loses its own habitat, it must compete with the Gray Squirrel for food and nesting habitat.

Breeding Makes leaf nests like the Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Habitat Swamps, marshes & bogs, Forests & woodlands

Range Plains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Florida, Texas, California, Eastern Canada

Discussion Introduced to some parts of California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Generally abundant, although the subspecies from the eastern shore of Maryland is considered endangered. These savannah animals prefer open, parklike habitats with scattered trees and an open understory.