Gray Squirrel

Sciurus griseus

Front Track Size Hind Track Size
1.25 - 1 7/8 in. L x .75 - 1.75 in. W 1.25 - 2 1/16 in. L x 1 - 1.75 in. W
       

Gray Squirrel Tracks

 

Natural History of Gray Squirrels

 

Gray squirrel on the side of a Douglas fir tree. The hind feet can turn backward, allowing the animal to descend a tree head-first.

Gray squirrel. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Gray squirrel in tree. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.
Gray squirrel, mouth full of acorn,  looking down at me from his perch in a bay tree. He was gathering acorns, but took time out to scold me for entering his forest.

Gray squirrels are common in many regions. They have large bushy tails and gray fur. Since they love to eat acorns, they are found commonly in areas where oaks grow. They also eat nuts, berries, fungi, larvae, vegetation, and insects. The call is a hoarse bark. They make their bulky nests high up in trees from leaves, sticks, and bark. In winter, they find shelter in tree hollows. Gray squirrels do not hibernate. They are active year-round. Usually, four to six young are born per litter. Their tracks show four toes on the front foot and five on the hind foot. Clear tracks may sometimes be found along river edges, where the animals come down to drink. Gray squirrels are not as common in campgrounds as Douglas' squirrels and chipmunks.

The best time if year to see them is in the fall, when they are busy gathering and storing acorns for winter. Gray squirrels will scold intruders into their territory. They sit high on branches and make a chirring sound that is easily recognizable.

   
The gray squirrel on the right was trying to keep cool on a hot day. It was over 100 degrees out and the squirrel found a shady place on the dirt road to stretch out and cool off. As I drove down the road, I thought the squirrel had been hit by a car. But it was actually just laying there to get cool. It moved off as I approached.

Gray squirrel on hot day. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

   
gray squirrel front tracks
Perfect gray squirrel tracks found in mud. These are the front tracks.
 
Left front track of a gray squirrel
 
right front track
Right front track of a gray squirrel
 
gray squirrel track
Right front gray squirrel track
   

gray squirrel in a tree. photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006

Gray squirrel in an tree. It had been foraging on the ground and ran up the tree at my approach.
   

This squirrel was foraging for acorns on the ground.

Gray squirrel foraging on ground. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.

   

gray squirrel looking at my trail camera

The gray squirrel above paused to check out my trail camera. I had placed the camera above a spring that the animals used frequently in the summer. This squirrel and others stopped by daily.
 

gray squirrel climbing

This western gray squirrel was climbing a Douglas fir tree

 

Gray squirrel front track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Front track of a gray squirrel. The green material is algae. This track was found in a small puddle on a dirt road.

   
Gray squirrel front track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Nicely detailed front track of a gray squirrel. The green material is algae. This track was found in a drying puddle on a dirt road.

   
Gray squirrel front track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Another front track from a gray squirrel from the same puddle.
   
Gray squirrel track from right front paw. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A beautiful gray squirrel track in soft dust. This track shows drag marks made by the squirrel's tail as it was dragged over the track. This is a front track.

   
Gray squirrel tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Gray squirrel track set. All four feet are shown in this pattern. The outer two tracks are the hind paw prints. The inner two are the front paws. Direction of travel is toward the top of the photo.

   

Tail drag marks from a gray squirrel Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This gray squirrel trail shows a nice tail drag mark. The long tail is sometimes dragged behind the squirrel, or just hits the ground occasionally. The tail is normally held off the ground. They will also roll on the ground to scent mark. They rub their bellies along the ground and leave scent. Many animals use scent to communicate with others of their species.

   

Gray squirrel scats found on a wood pile underneath a perch in a tree.

gray squirrel scats photo by Kim Cabrera 2007.

   
 
Pair of gray squirrel tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.
A pair of front tracks from a gray squirrel. Front tracks have four toes.
 
Left hind squirrel track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.
A very good five-toed hind track from a gray squirrel. This is the left hind paw.
 
Pair of left gray squirrel tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.

A clear pair of left tracks in mud from a gray squirrel. The five-toed hind track is above. The four-toed front track is below.

 
Gray squirrel front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
The front track of a gray squirrel in mud, showing the four toes and claw marks.
 
Gray squirrel front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Another nice gray squirrel front track in mud. The heel pad and metacarpal pads show here.

 
Gray squirrel feeding sign. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Feeding sign left by a gray squirrel. These are the outer hulls of California bay nuts. the squirrels open them and eat the nuts inside, then drop the hulls.

 
gray squirrel on tree. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A gray squirrel chattering at me from the side of a Douglas fir tree. The hind feet can rotate 180 degrees, allowing the squirrel to descend a tree head first.

 

 

 

Gray squirrel front track in sand. Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California, November, 1999. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera. Gray squirrel hind track in sand. Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California, near Burlington Campground. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera.

Gray squirrel front track in sand.
Front track shows four toes.

Gray squirrel hind track in sand.
Hind track shows five toes.

Gray squirrel track pattern. Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. November 1999. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera.

Gray squirrel trail pattern. Hind feet land ahead of front feet. Tracks will be in groups of four.

Hind track. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

Right front gray squirrel track. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

Hind track in dust.

Right front track in dust.

This track pattern is typical of rodents.

 

Squirrel track pattern in snow. Photo copyright by Laurie Lee 2007.

Squirrel track pattern in snow. Photo courtesy of Laurie Lee.
These imprints contain tracks of all four feet.

Squirrel track pattern in snow. Photo copyright by Laurie Lee 2007.

Squirrel track pattern in snow. Photo courtesy of Laurie Lee.
These imprints contain tracks of all four feet.

Thanks for the use of the photos, Laurie!

Gray squirrel hind foot in plaster. Gray squirrel hind track from a plaster cast. This mold shows details not normally found in casts made in the field. Note the toe pads.
   
   

Personal Notes on Gray Squirrels

 

I like watching squirrels run. They seem to hold the tail level as they run so the body bobs up and down and the tail just trails along at the same level over the ground. Gray squirrels like to hide acorns and nuts for later use. I've watched them dig holes to bury acorns only to have ground squirrels follow right behind them and dig up the prize!

 

 

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