Eastern Gray Squirrel Facts
- The informative term of Eastern Gray Squirrel serves as the most frequently used common name for this beautiful product of evolution. The adorable mammal does have another, very similar title, though. That’s the shorter term of the gray squirrel.
- Among scientific professionals, however, it’s generally referred to by its formal title. Unfortunately, that technical moniker remains somewhat difficult for the layperson to pronounce. That’s because it bears the official name of the Sciurus carolinensis.
- The rodent received that tongue-twisting appelation due to the efforts of the German naturalist, Johann Friedrich Gmelin. He accomplished the first acknowledgement of the animal as a separate and distinct species. He managed that deed in 1788.
- No matter which of these monikers one chooses to use, though, it remains an interesting fauna. Despite its small stature, it plays a pivotal role in its region. In fact, the creature represents perhaps the most important regenerator of forests in its range.
- Its therefore fortunate that the Eastern Gray Squirrel seems to be maintaining a population base that’s both stable and sufficient. That pleasant situation also appears to hold true throughout its territory. Accordingly, the IUCN lists it as Least Concern.
- The marvel of Nature nonetheless faces some potential threats to its contiued existence as a species. Most of those, though, mirror the situation of many species. It faces the possible dangers of habitat degradation and loss, and, of course, that of climate change.
Eastern Gray Squirrel Physical Description
The remarkable Eastern Gray Squirrel generally captures the attention and appreciation of those who encounter it. The animal does so for various reasons, of course. Sheer physical measurements, however, rarely factor into the general respect it’s usually accorded.
In that regard, it follows the pattern established by the majority of its kin around the world. That’s true since it displays no noticeable degree of the phsyiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. The genders, therefore, can be hard for the layperson distinguish simply.
Individuals of both sexes of the animal attain a body length that averages between 9.1 – 11.8 in (23 – 30 cm). The tail, however, grows comparatively long in relation to body size. This appendage typically reaches lengths equaling between 7.5 – 9.8 in (19 – 25 cm).
Weights remain surprisingly light, again among both genders. Mature adults usually reach a mass of between 14 – 21 oz (0.4 – 0.6 kg). Exceptional specimens do occur, of course. These, though, rarely exced either of these categories by more than a minor amount.
In overall appearance, likewise, both genders of the Eastern Gray Squirrel present the same overall patterns. Like all known squirrels, it develops four toes on its front feet, but five on the hind feet. Intriguingly, its teeth commonly grow throughout the life of the rodent.
It’s the coloring of the gorgeous creature that stands out the most, though. The fur usully presents a predominantly light gray shade. Some, however, present a light brown. Its underside shows an off-white hue. Also gray, the tail typically possesses a dense, fluffy coat.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Sciuridae
- Genus: Sciurius
- Species: S. carolenensis
Eastern Gray Squirrel Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The distinctive Eastern Gray Squirrel evolved as native to a moderate portion of the globe. The precise location of that zone of habitation likely won’t surprise many people, though. That’s true since it developed as endemic to a section of the continent of North America.
Its very name provides a clue into which portion of that greater area it lives, too. As that indicates, the beautiful mammal mainly lives in the general eastern part. Some do live in the midwest, however. It lives from southeast Canada, to Florida and Texas, in the United States.
Though quite adaptible, the impresive animal does show decided preferences in its choice of habitat. The great majority of specimens prefer to make their home in large areas of dense, mature woodland ecosystems. These usually comprise mostly deciduous trees.
Although it does adapt, it nonetheless shows another strong preference for certain varieties of trees. The forests where it makes its home generally contain a large percentage of hickory and oak trees. These regions, can, though, sometimes include larger parks and yards.
Like its relatives, the Eastern Gray Squirrel evolved as herbivorous in nature. Its diet covers a wide range of food sources. These include such things as flowers, tree buds and bark, berries, and seeds. It does show a strong preference for various nuts, which it often saves for later.
It developed as a primarily solitary species. The creature builds its nest in the forks of trees, and the male and female generally only share a nest during breeding season or exceptionally cold periods. It will also make use of dens in trees vacated by former occupants.