Fox squirrels have almost 8 to 10 subspecies like southern, eastern, western, pinewood, and Texas fox squirrels that are classified on their geographic location and habitat.
However, these were announced as endangered species due to deforestation and hunting before 2016, but now they have evolved themselves and are not at risk of extinction.
What Does a Fox Squirrel Look Like? A fox squirrel looks like a fox as its body color resembles a grey fox. It appears yellowish-red in color with grey and reddish fur on the body. Moreover, it is a tree animal that prefers to live in trees and eats nuts, fruits, seeds, etc. Furthermore, these are not social animals and mate only in December and June by showing competitiveness over other males.
They have a longer lifespan when they live in captivity, but their lifespan gets reduced from 17 years to 7 months when they live in a wild environment; they die before turning into an adult.
Why are fox squirrels called fox squirrels?
Many animals and birds have been named on their physical appearance or geographical location, like California squirrels are commonly present in California.
In the same way, fox squirrels are named so as they look like a fox because their body color resembles it. It appears in yellowish-red color, and the belly is orange-colored.
The tail and feet appear in a cinnamon shade mixed with black. Accordingly, the grey fox also has grey and reddish furs on their body, making them look similar to fox squirrels.
Furthermore, they have a fox-like lope as they run with four limbs in bounding steps. Many people get confused and consider it a red or grey squirrel as its appearance resembles both.
It is also known as eastern, or Bryant’s fox, and the monkey-faced squirrel is another common name for this species.
How do you identify a fox squirrel?
It is not difficult to identify a fox squirrel as it has distinct body color and size, making them different from other species sharing a common family in the taxonomic group.
The body shape, size, and color are enough to tell about the type of furry animals, as every species has a distinct coloring of fur and vary in size from others.
They have cinnamon-colored tails and feet that are longer, adding a few more inches to their overall size. Additionally, their fur colors are reddish-yellow, giving these animals a distinct color.
Three different patterns are visible on their bodies grey with yellow, grey and rust, and black and brown colors. In addition, they have white strips on their face and black masks around their eyes.
Moreover, they are almost 10 to 14 inches long, while the tail accounts for nearly 8 to 12 inches, collectively making an animal about 18 to 26 inches long.
Their body weight is almost 1.5 to 2.8 pounds, which varies slightly in males and females, but it does not make a noticeable difference between them.
They prefer to live in open areas like forests and choose savannah-like habitats to build their nests.
They are commonly found in forests with oak and pine trees and cypress. They do not choose heavy forests to live in but need large hollow trees providing space for building nests.
These cavities help them in the hibernation period during low temperatures in winter. You can find them living inside leaves nest present on higher trees like oak and elm.
Furthermore, they choose temperate and terrestrial environments or can even survive in urban and suburban areas that are not heavily forested.
They can eat a wide variety of food as they usually consume both plant and animal matter. Their diet is based on nuts like walnut and acorn, mulberry, flowers, bud, and twigs.
Additionally, they can consume fungi, tubers, bird eggs, and plant seeds. They can easily switch to plant or animal food when there is a shortage of availability in any region.
The eastern fox squirrels can feed on dead fish and small insects like beetles and moths as they are omnivorous.
The plant parts like buds and shoots, leaves, and fruits are also prone to their attack when they feel hungry.
Moreover, these are opportunistic feeders like ants and choose the food type that is highly nutritious and readily available, requiring less effort.
They can fulfill their water requirements by consuming dew drops on a leaf when targeting the plant for food.
They have to consume juicy fruits in drought conditions because water is not readily available. In addition, the bones of insects, vegetables, and antlers provide an excellent source of minerals.
So, you can find them eating every possible food source that is easier to access and adds a high nutritional value to their diet.
They are not communal animals and resist interacting socially with other species, making them solitary animals. However, it can share the feeding spots with other members of the same family.
Their primary goal is to find a food source and store it at a suitable place after collecting. These small furry animals hide this managed food source in the ground.
They can use the hidden nuts and other food items in winter when they have to enter a hibernation stage. Moreover, it prefers to hide inside a hollow tree or build a leaf nest on the trees.
You can find these animals in a region where they forage for food and keep defending the nest. This defensive behavior is common to female animals as they do not leave nests after fertilization.
These protect fertilized eggs until they have become adults after a hatching process and communicate with other squirrels through particular scents.
So, males can only become aggressive during mating, while females remain aggressive all the year to defend their nests and babies.
Furthermore, they can also show destructive behavior in the house as these act as pests and dig holes, disturbing lawns and gardens and damaging cables and wires.
The mating behavior is commonly observed in freezing and hot months like December and June. It begins with a chasing behavior when males start chasing the female to get a chance.
They have to show competence for getting a chance in multiple males following the female animal by creating sounds and showing aggressiveness.
The successful males have to provide protection to their partners and leave the nests after mating. The females give birth to young ones after a month and care for them alone.
Moreover, they will leave the nest after 2 to 3 months of their birth as they become adults and need to mate to raise the population.
Where are fox squirrels found?
A fox squirrel species has further subspecies that are divided into different regions of the world, but this species is commonly found in the US.
They are found in the eastern region of the US except for England and are widely spread in North Carolina. It is considered the largest squirrel in this region that lives on trees.
Moreover, it is present in Colorado, Texas, New Jersey, Mexico, and the southern region of Canada. You can see them living in deciduous forests and the areas having mixed forests.
Some people have introduced them into Washington and California as they are non-native species in this region. They are not communal organisms and are restricted to their territories.