The Super Gray Squirrel
The Super Gray Squirrel is easy to spot and can be found nearly everywhere in Ohio. This small mammal was once of the most abundant creatures here. Their numbers dwindled as people settled the area and cleared the trees that they lived in.
As the Gray Squirrel began to adapt to living with people, their numbers began to increase. The super gray squirrel can now be found living in the deciduous woodlands in the parks. They can also be found living in large trees in cities and on farms. Oak, hickory, beech, walnut and buckeye are the preferred tree species of the gray squirrel.
In the fall and winter, when trees have lost their leaves, look for the big bunch of leaves in the tops of large trees. These leaves are actually a squirrel’s nest, also called drey. Gray squirrels build nests high in the trees or in empty cavities in tree trunks. They build their nests with small branches, twigs, leaves and sometimes even paper and fabric. Sometimes whole groups of squirrels will share a large nest.
The gray squirrel can grow from 16 to 20 inches long. When full-grown they can weigh up to 1 1/2 pounds. Their fluffy tail makes up about half of their length. The belly of the gray squirrel is white. The fur on their back is a mixture of colors black, brown and white. Each gray squirrel has all of these colors in its fur, but they blend together to give an overall appearance of being gray. Some gray squirrels have more black in their fur, which gives them the look of being black.
The favorite foods of the gray squirrel are the nuts of hickory, butternut, beech, oak, buckeye, black walnut and the seeds of the tuliptree, sugar maple and dogwood. They also eat the fruits of wild grape, paw paw, persimmon and black cherry. Occasionally, the squirrel even eats insects!
While preparing for winter, the gray squirrel will gather and hide nuts. The squirrel hides food in hundreds of locations so that they will be sure to have enough food to last through the winter. They also hide food in so many places because other squirrels will find some of their food stores and they want to be sure to have plenty.
Since the gray squirrels never eat everything that they hide, they ensure new trees will grow because the nuts they bury will eventually sprout into trees. It is said that squirrels have planted more trees than all of mankind!
Isn’t the Gray Squirrel Super?