Where is a Gray Squirrel Before it Becomes an Invasive Species?
If you’re wondering where a grey squirrel came from before it became an invasive species, you’ve come to the right place. The non-native species is a generalist feeder. They strip trees of their protective bark and are the primary source of food for Native Americans. Unfortunately, these squirrels have also been destroying our natural world. You may not have even noticed them before!
Grey squirrels are a non-native species
As a non-native species, grey squirrels have no legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). As a result, they have been listed in the IUCN’s list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. This list highlights the damage grey squirrels cause to native species and has been deemed of global significance. Listed below are some of the main reasons why grey squirrels are considered a threat to our native wildlife.
One of the primary reasons grey squirrels are a problem for native wildlife is their lack of anti-predator behavior. It has been suggested that non-native squirrels exhibit less anti-predator behaviours than their native red counterparts. The most likely explanation is that grey squirrels do not need large numbers to establish a new population. The majority of successful introductions involved fewer than 10 individuals. The efficiency of grey squirrel introductions is attributed to a theory called the ‘enemy release hypothesis’, which posits that invading species do better in areas where they lack natural parasites and predators.
They are a generalist feeder
The Eastern gray squirrel has become a threatening invasive species that has decimated many North American forests and parks. The name comes from two Greek words, sciurus, meaning tail and shadow. Its species name refers to the region of the Carolinas where it was first discovered. It has several other names, including the gray squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, and western gray. This species can reach up to 22 inches long, and is capable of heading down a ladder head-first.
During an experiment, researchers observed that the first visit to a common birdfeeder was the most successful for native urban squirrels. They also showed increased recall latency, and showed learning when confronted with the same difficult problem. This enhanced performance is likely a general, pre-adaptive trait, and does not reflect any species-specific differences. The gray squirrel, however, has undergone mild adaptations to their invasive status.
They strip trees of their protective bark
The gray squirrel was not always considered a threat to North American trees. However, their presence has led to a decline in the number of red squirrels in the United Kingdom. The eastern gray squirrel, introduced in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is wreaking havoc in the UK. In addition to their detrimental effects on trees, the grays have also been blamed for causing the regional extinction of red squirrels. These critters feed on the sugar-rich phloem of trees and gnaw on the bark as a form of pain relief.
In the late 1920s, the Forestry Commission in Britain began investigating the problem of gray squirrels. A news article in the New York Times titled “American Squirrel on Trial in Britain” suggested that the species was so controversial that a fair jury would be difficult to select. Britain then classified the gray squirrel as a pest and declared it a crime to release it into the wild.
They are a primary source of food for Native Americans
The Eastern gray squirrel is a popular meat substitute. During the winter, they eat a variety of nuts, including beechnuts, butternuts, and hickory nuts. Other foods they enjoy are the seeds and buds of various trees and other plants, and insects. They are known to display some cannibalistic behavior and store their food in caches for winter. They also use scent and memory to locate these caches.
These rodents are one of the most popular pets in the world, but many people do not know this interesting fact about them. Native Americans have been eating these animals for thousands of years. Their meat is so delicious that Native Americans have adopted it as a favorite meal. While you may be surprised at how well they cook, remember that you are unlikely to find any leftovers. You can prepare your meals easily at home by preparing a few easy recipes using these squirrels.
They are controlled by trapping and shooting
Using a rat-snap trap to catch gray squirrels in your attic can be effective in certain situations. It is recommended to set snap traps vertically so they remain fixed in place after a squirrel triggers them. By setting the trap vertically, you encourage the squirrel to stand on its hind legs and reach for the bait, increasing your catch potential and minimizing the possibility of misfires.
Trapping and shooting are effective options for removing a gray squirrel population. Despite their reputation as an invasive species, trapping and shooting are the best options for controlling this species. Professional pest controllers will use humane methods to kill the rodents. A licensed nuisance wildlife control operator will perform these operations and also take care of the repairs to damaged structures. This may involve a permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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.