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Melanistic Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis


"The adaptable, omnivorous, diurnal Eastern Gray Squirrel is the native American mammal people most frequently see east of the Mississippi River. It prefers to den inside trees, but will construct large nests of leaves in the canopy if tree cavities are not available. An average of two to three blind, hairless young make up a litter. Litters are produced once or twice a year, in February and March and again in July through September. The young are weaned at eight or nine weeks, when their previously protective mother abandons them. In September, yearlings and some adults strike out to establish their own home ranges in a process called the ""fall reshuffle."" These home ranges are rarely more than one or two hectares in size. Successful as they are, Eastern Gray Squirrels live only 11-12 months on average, but some individuals have survived more than ten years in the wild. Factors affecting survival include the severity of winter, abundance of food, and parasites. One parasite, the mange mite, may cause enough hair loss to threaten survival through winter." From the Encyclopedia of Life "Eastern grey squirrels are medium sized Sciuridae. Males and females are similar in size and color. The fur on their back ranges from grizzled dark grey to pale grey and may have red tones. Their ears are pale grey to white. Their tail is white to pale grey. The underparts are grey to white. 'Melanism' means dark pigmentation. Melanism is common in northern populations of this species. Some populations of eastern grey squirrels are entirely melanistic, so that all squirrels in that area are black over their whole body. If you see a black squirrel, it is most likely an eastern grey squirrel that is melanistic. Some populations of eastern grey squirrels have higher rates of albinism, which results in white fur, but this is very rare. The total length of the squirrel ranges from 380 to 525 millimeters (mm). The tail length ranges from 150-250 mm. You can tell eastern grey squirrels apart from fox squirrels by their white tipped fur and white or grayish belly. Eastern grey squirrels often have a lot of red in their fur. Fox squirrels have red-tipped fur and red bellies. Eastern grey squirrels are usually smaller than fox squirrels. In most areas of North America, entirely black eastern grey squirrels are fairly common. These black squirrels will not have white-tipped fur or white bellies. Black fox squirrels are found in some parts of the southeastern United States. Eastern grey squirrels are larger than Tamiasciurus hudsonicus and do not have the white eye ring around their eyes. Range mass: 338 to 750 g. Average mass: 540.33 g. Range length: 380.0 to 525.0 mm. Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike Average basal metabolic rate: 2.062 W." From the Encyclopedia of Life


"Eastern grey squirrels prefer expanses of mature, mixed forest. These squirrels prefer having a continuous forest canopy (upper layer of leaves and branches) so that they can forage and travel mainly in the trees, rather than travelling on the ground. By staying in the trees they are better protected from predators. Populations of eastern grey squirrels are highest in forests with trees that produce foods that last through winter storage. Oaks, walnuts, and pines are some of the trees produce foods that last through winter storage. Eastern grey squirrels also use trees for nests. They build leaf nests (collections of leaves) in the higher branches of large trees. Sometimes they use tree cavities and holes as nests for raising their young. These holes are also useful as shelter from extreme weather in winter (hibernation). Habitat Regions: temperate Terrestrial Biomes: forest Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban" From the Encyclopedia of Life

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Spotted by

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Spotted on Mar 21, 2013
Submitted on Aug 24, 2013

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