Eastern Grey Squirrel

Identification & Biology
Latin Name : Sciurus carolinensis
Category : Mammals
Description :

Eastern grey squirrels are identifiable by their dark to pale grey backs that may be brushed with cinnamon on hips, feet, and head. Ears are buff to grey to white, and its tail is white to pale grey. In the South Okanagan, they can be confused with the larger Eastern Fox Squirrel (also an introduced species) which has a long, bushy tail and variable colouration. However, the common name ‘fox squirrel’ refers to the yellowish-red, fox-like colour that is common in this species.

Habitat

Eastern grey squirrels have taken up residence in the deciduous woodlands of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, and have now made their way into the Southern Interior, primarily in the Okanagan Valley. In the Okanagan, they have adapted to residential properties, living in low elevation deciduous and coniferous forests.

Impact & Risks

Economically, Eastern grey squirrels cost homeowners repairs due to digging up of lawns and gardens, chewing through electrical wires, eaves and shingles, and nesting in roofs, attics, and chimneys. These squirrels will also chew into the bark of fruit and nut trees and vines, reducing productivity. Eastern grey squirrels deplete populations of native squirrels through competition and disease, and displace native birds of their nesting habitat, eating the birds’ eggs and nestlings. They also compete with native mice and voles.

Prevention & Mitigation

To prevent their spread, landowners can consider the following measures:

  • Don’t feed or relocate squirrels
  • Keep all compost, garbage and pet food covered
  • Use squirrel-proof bird feeders
Treatment & Disposal

At this time there is no official treatment and disposal protocol.

Okanagan Distribution

Priority Level Definitions

Watch For - Poses a significant threat (very high risk) and does NOT presently occur in the region OR is relatively new to the region and is very limited in extent.
High - High risk/impact; limited population with significant potential to spread in the region.
Medium - Medium risk/impact; limited distribution – broader population distribution with potential to spread further in a region.
Low - Low risk/impact; may be widespread or not, may be of concern in specific situations with certain high values – e.g. specific agriculture crops. Some species may be treated primarily with biological control agents.

Commodities