Ground Squirrels vs. Tree Squirrels

Identifying Ground and Tree Squirrels

Property owners trying to identify whether they have ground squirrels or tree squirrels by sight alone may have a difficult time. The easiest way to distinguish them is to observe where the pests run when frightened. Tree squirrels will scurry up a tree or a tall structure, whereas ground squirrels dart across the ground to a nearby burrow. Without an opportunity to see the pests in motion, it may be necessary to rely on appearance.

Visually, ground squirrels and tree squirrels are quite similar, except for a few distinct features. Some common species of ground squirrels have a white ring around their eyes and stripes down their backs, but not across their heads like chipmunks. Tree squirrels, on the other hand, typically have no marks on their bodies or lighter-colored undersides.

Another unique aspect of tree squirrels is their large, bushy tails, which help them stay balanced when climbing trees. Tree squirrels are also the larger of the two types, measuring between 12 and 20 inches long, while ground squirrels average about 8 to 12 inches in length.

Ground Squirrel vs. Tree Squirrel Behavior

Ground squirrels are burrowing rodents that use their tunnels for sleeping, storing food, raising young, and hiding from danger. Burrows can stretch anywhere from five to thirty feet in length and two to four feet deep. They can also become colonies, linking several dozen squirrels through interconnected pathways. Ground squirrels rarely venture more than fifty feet from their burrow openings.

On the other hand, tree squirrels move farther from their nests because they can travel in trees, safe from most predators. They live in tree cavities or nests made of twigs, leaves, and bark.

Damage and Control

Ground squirrels eat mostly green grasses, but have no trouble destroying food-bearing and ornamental plants. They also kill trees by stripping their bark during the winter. Tree squirrels cause their worst damage in the fall when they enter attics to hide their food caches. This can attract other unwelcome guests like rats, mice, and birds.

Both squirrel types can also carry a host of diseases, including leptospirosis, plague, and rabies. Getting rid of ground squirrels vs. tree squirrels requires a different approach, so contact the professionals at Critter Control for identification and removal if squirrels become pests in your yard or home.