How to Identify Different Types of Squirrels

Common Squirrel Species

Over 200 species of squirrels are found in great abundance worldwide. Species of squirrels in the United States fall into one of three categories: tree, ground, or flying squirrels. Despite differences in nesting habits and behavior, most of these pests share the same basic characteristics of bushy tails, short arms and legs, sharp claws used for climbing and foraging, and pointed ears. Flying squirrels are unique as they have membranous webbing between their limbs that facilitate their ability to glide through the air.

Flying squirrels can glide distances of over 150 feet making openings on homes easily accessible, and tree squirrels utilize their climbing abilities to gain access to homes. Ground squirrels are commonly seen causing destruction to yards or gardens.

Tree Squirrel Species & Appearance

Tree squirrels are the most easily recognizable group of squirrels, and three species are prominent throughout North America: the gray, fox, and red squirrels. Gray squirrels live in northeastern and western states. Despite their name, these pests are commonly gray, brown, black, tan, and even red. Fox squirrels also live in the Eastern United States. They are typically reddish, have tan bellies, and sometimes have prominent black ears and feet. Red squirrels live in forested, northern areas of the country and have fur that changes color from grayish-red to orange-red with the seasons. They are smaller than other species of tree squirrels and have tufted ears.

Ground Squirrels & Flying Squirrels

Ground squirrels and flying squirrels make up a smaller portion of the U.S. squirrel population. Both maintain similar diets as tree squirrels but live in different settings. Ground squirrels, the smallest of all squirrel species, burrow into the ground and set up dens underneath the soil. Flying squirrels live in trees in the northern and southern states. Unlike tree and ground squirrels, flying squirrels are nocturnal. Locating and identifying the creatures can be extremely difficult.

Damage & Removal

Squirrels inflict costly and extensive damages on manmade buildings by burrowing under foundations, shredding insulation, and chewing through electrical wiring. Ground squirrels also disturb, tear up, and destroy gardens and flower beds, while every species of the pest leaves behind droppings wherever they feed and nest, which aids in the spread of disease. Any suspected infestation should be handled by calling pest specialists like those at Critter Control.

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