Tree Squirrel

OVERVIEW

Pest squirrels are divided into three groups for classification: tree squirrels ground squirrels flying squirrels Species that fall into all three groupings have the capacity to cause destruction on lawns and in homes. Some of the more common species that regularly come into contact with humans and manmade structures include fox squirrels, eastern gray squirrels, and red squirrels.

Biology & Behavior

Tree squirrels belong to the rodent family and Utah has the Albert squirrel, the Pine squirrel and the Eastern Fox squirrel. The Pine squirrel is also known as the Red squirrel or Chickaree. Tree squirrels are seldom found far from forested or wooded areas. ​Tree squirrels feed on a variety of materials including fruits, bark, leaves, fungi, insects, bird eggs, nuts and occasionally other small animals. Tree squirrel diets vary by species and are determined by their habitat and season of the year. They do not hibernate but tend to store great quantities of food during the winter months.

Noises

What Does a Tree Squirrel Sound Like?

Squirrels primarily emit warning and mating calls. Tree and ground squirrels are most active in the daytime and can be heard in attics or gutters and burrowing in gardens or under porches, respectively. Their young are noted for having sharp cries, while adult squirrels make noises that sound like “kuk” or “qua.” Squirrels in attics or walls also make scratching noises as they travel across surfaces. Other squirrel sounds, like buzzing, chattering, whistling, or the stomping of feet, signal danger and act as an audible threat to potential intruders.

Tracks

Squirrel tracks are relatively small at about two inches in length. Although their prints are around the same size as those left by rabbits, squirrels have front paws with four narrow toes tipped with tiny claws. A squirrel’s larger rear paws also feature five distinct toes with a large pad at the heel.

Scat

Squirrel droppings are similar in size to kidney beans and range from 5 to 8 mm in length. They usually get scattered about as the rodents run and easily blend in with the ground due to their light brown coloration. As tree-dwelling creatures, squirrels often use hollow crevices in tree trunks as toilets. Droppings are generally pill-shaped and cylindrical in appearance, sometimes with tapered ends.

Damage

Tree squirrels are a nuisance and cause damage when they use buildings for nesting sites and food storage or gnaw into attics to take up residence. They often gain access through vents, broken windows, knot holes, and construction gaps under eaves and gables. Occasionally, the chimney and fire place provide an entry route. ​Some have a remarkable ability to destroy wooden shakes and shingles. The amount of structural damage may at times be severe. They can be especially destructive to cabins that are vacant during part of the year, since they are free to continue the activities until the owners return. Garages, barns, stables, tool sheds, and other buildings often serve as home for tree squirrels. ​Rarely do Tree squirrels take up residence in a building without being seen or leaving evidence. The typical evidence of Tree squirrels includes droppings, gnawed holes, nest materials, food stores, shells, hulls, pits, and other food remnants. If squirrels are in the attic or garage even if not visible, their movement can be heard. ​

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