Eastern Grey Squirrel
The scientific name for the Eastern Grey Squirrel is Sciurus carolinensis. Emily K. Gonzales analyzed the distribution of this species in British Columbia. In this article, she highlights the different aspects of their biology, including their diet and courtship behaviour. She also discusses their genetic patterns. Once you understand these basics, you can go on to learn about the different ways they are able to survive in new areas.
The eastern gray squirrel’s range extends across the eastern United States. The species is a diurnal rodent, with peak activity times in the early morning and late afternoon. Males are sexually mature at one to two years old, and females are fertile between two and three years old. In North Carolina, reproductive longevity is estimated to be over eight years. In captivity, the eastern gray squirrel lives up to 20 years, although their life expectancy in the wild is significantly shorter. The animals are prone to predation and their habitat presents challenges.
The eastern gray squirrel is a species of rodent in the genus Sciurus. Its name comes from the Greek words skia and oura, meaning “squirrel sitting in the shadow of its tail.” Eastern grey squirrels are diurnal, meaning they spend most of their day in darkness. The eyes of gray squirrels are adapted for high levels of light. They also have superior visual acuity. Because they have a broad vision range, the gray squirrel has a “blind spot” located in its lower visual field. This allows the animal to see a wide range of things in a single day, including objects in the dark.
The eastern grey squirrel has a long history of courtship. The process of courtship begins in the fall, and reaches its peak in January when hormone levels are high. Male grey squirrels are attracted to females during the courtship phase, and the first male they encounter usually rejects the female. Multiple males may chase after a single female, jostling for the prime position. During this period, the female is often seen lifting her tail, and the male will retreat.
Recent research has demonstrated genetic variations in the cognitive abilities of the eastern gray squirrel. These genetic differences may be adaptive in nature, as these mammals exhibit enhanced cognitive abilities in response to novel environments. For example, gray squirrels in urban settings tend to perform better than those in rural areas. However, these genetic differences do not necessarily indicate that grey squirrels are superior. Their cognitive abilities have likely undergone slight variations during their evolutionary history. In addition to being beneficial, these differences may also be indicative of species-level adaptations to new environments.
There are numerous factors that influence the habitat selection of Eastern Grey Squirrels. In the Lower Mainland, residential development has increased the number of suitable habitats. The area is well-forested with many deciduous trees. Human habitats such as gardens and bird feeders provide abundant food and a place to nest. Ultimately, this helps to ensure the continued existence of these animals. But, how do we ensure the best habitat selection for these animals?
Threat to native species
The threat to native species from Eastern gray squirrels is real. While the species is native to North America, it has been introduced into cities and suburbs to thrive in the city’s parks and gardens. They also damage electrical wires and shingles, and can tear down trees and vines. Fortunately, this species isn’t as widespread as some may think. In fact, it’s only found in the parts of eastern Canada where the boreal forest doesn’t exist.
Studies of the fates of eastern grey squirrels have suggested that the telemetry study can be an effective means to detect disease. Among the translocated squirrels, 29 survived the experiment; one of them homed 5.2 kilometers in 24 days. Despite the radiotransmitters, two squirrels died. Of the seven transmitters found, three signaled death, and three were not detected at all. Although the fates of translocated and control squirrels did not differ by x21, the proximal causes of death were most likely injury and starvation.
Where were Eastern Grey Squirrels introduced?
Eastern Grey Squirrels were introduced to Vancouver Island in 1947.
Why were Eastern Grey Squirrels introduced?
Eastern Grey Squirrels were introduced to Vancouver Island to help control the population of Douglas squirrels.
How did Eastern Grey Squirrels get to Vancouver Island?
Eastern Grey Squirrels were introduced to Vancouver Island by being brought over on a ship from Seattle.
What is the native range of Eastern Grey Squirrels?
The native range of Eastern Grey Squirrels is the eastern half of the United States.
What is the current range of Eastern Grey Squirrels?
The current range of Eastern Grey Squirrels includes the eastern half of the United States portions of Canada and Vancouver Island.
How have Eastern Grey Squirrels impacted the environment of Vancouver Island?
Eastern Grey Squirrels have had a negative impact on the environment of Vancouver Island by displacing the Douglas squirrels which are now considered endangered.
What do Eastern Grey Squirrels eat?
Eastern Grey Squirrels are omnivores and their diet includes fruits nuts seeds fungi and birds’ eggs.
How big are Eastern Grey Squirrels?
Eastern Grey Squirrels typically weigh between 250 and 350 grams.
How long do Eastern Grey Squirrels live?
In the wild Eastern Grey Squirrels can live up to 10 years but the average lifespan is only 2 to 3 years.
What is the primary predator of Eastern Grey Squirrels?
Foxes coyotes bobcats and hawks are the primary predators of Eastern Grey Squirrels.
Do Eastern Grey Squirrels hibernate?
Yes Eastern Grey Squirrels do hibernate.
How do Eastern Grey Squirrels hibernate?
Eastern Grey Squirrels hibernate by entering a state of torpor which is a sleep-like state where their body temperature and metabolism drop significantly.
When do Eastern Grey Squirrels hibernate?
Eastern Grey Squirrels typically hibernate from mid-October to mid-February.
How much do Eastern Grey Squirrels weigh when they hibernate?
Eastern Grey Squirrels typically lose 10-15% of their body weight during hibernation.
What is the primary purpose of hibernation for Eastern Grey Squirrels?
The primary purpose of hibernation for Eastern Grey Squirrels is to conserve energy during the winter when food is scarce.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.