The gray squirrel is a very diverse animal. It is native to North America. Introduced to Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa, where the squirrel flourishes and is in no danger as a species. In North America, its numbers are regulated by shooting it for sport and in England, numbers are controlled by poisoning the animals.
Although the gray squirrel is found in parks and yards, woodlands are its preferred habitat. It builds its den in tree branches, inside a hollow trunk, or in an empty birds nest. It usually lines the nest with moss, thistledown, dried grass, and feathers and builds a cover. A gray squirrel will build several nests or dens and use them all. When a female has young, the nest is theirs alone, but winter nests are often shared to generate warmth.
Female squirrels can mate only twice a year, but males can mate at any time. Often, severalmales will attempt to mate with the same female. They try to attract her attention by slapping the bark of trees with their paws and chattering loudly. After the mating the males play no part in the rearing of the young.
|Birth occurs six weeks after mating. The naked, blind young are fed every two to four hours for several weeks. At seven weeks, they follow their mother out on the tree branches and before long have learned to climb. The young squirrels gradually begin to eat solid food and are weaned at 10 weeks of age. A month later, they leave the den. If there are not too many squirrels in the area, the young will build the dens nearby. Otherwise, they will be chased away to less crowded feeding area.|
Food & Feeding
The Gray Squirrel every day even in the winter. It does not hibornate and is unable to conserve enough energy to survive for long periods without food. It is most active at dawn and dusk, when it searchesfor whatever fruit, shoots, and seeds are in season. Small thumbs on it's front paws allow it to hold securely as it feeds. The squirrel's diet varies according to season. It eats manly tree bark and fungi in the winter and buds in the summer. In September it eats nuts and accorns. A hungry gray squirrel will also raid a bird's nest for eggs, steal food from bird feeders and dig up plants. The squirrel buries extra food just below the soils surface, which it later locates by smell.
The gray squirrel is one of the easiest animals to observe. It is found in parks and woods amoung both coniferous and deciduous trees, which provide a plentiful source of food. A squirrel's den can be found in a hollow tree or built between sturdy branches. Winter and breeding nests are usually larger then the summer nests and they are built of studier material. If you find an abandoned baby squirrel, it is best to leave it alone, since it must be fed every two to four hours for several weeks. Gray squirrels do not make good pets and may carry rabies.
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