Meet the Neighbors: Fox Squirrel
For the introduction to this series, see here.
This is the backyard squirrel in Colorado. If you live in the eastern half of the country, you will probably have gray squirrels living near you as well as fox squirrels. In other parts of the US, there are other species of squirrels. People either love them or hate them. While some people chase them out of their yards, other people feed them and think they are cute. The squirrels tend to steal garden produce and raid bird feeders but they are also cute and fun to watch. In our yard, they love to eat the heads of our sunflowers. Squirrels are very well adapted to an acrobatic life in trees. They can jump between trees with ease and have feet that can rotate 180 degrees to help them grip tree branches and bark. They can fall long distances and land on the ground unhurt because their furry tail acts kind of like a parachute. They also use their tails for many other purposes. During winter, they use their tails as blankets to keep themselves nice and warm in their nests. They also use their tails like a signal flag to communicate with other squirrels.
If you have ever noticed clumps of leaves caught in trees, you might have wondered what they are. These are squirrel nests where the female raises her young. There are usually three to four young per litter. When the babies are born, they have no fur and their eyes are sealed shut. They grow up quickly and only three months later, they are able to take care of themselves.
These squirrels eat all kinds of things. They will eat garbage, garden produce, seeds, nuts, tree buds, insects and even bird eggs. Around Halloween, they eat the pumpkins and jack o’ lanterns that people put on their porches! These acrobatic creatures are very fun to observe but keep an eye on the tomatoes in your garden and the pumpkins on your porch or they will make off with them!