Eastern Gray Squirrel
Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the eastern gray squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for re-burial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. It has been estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache. It is one of very few mammalian species that can descend a tree head-first. It does this by turning its feet so that the claws of its hindpaws are backward pointing and can grip the tree bark.
Eastern gray squirrel drey
Eastern gray squirrels build a type of nest, known as a drey, in the forks of trees. The drey consists mainly of dry leaves and twigs; Spanish moss is also useful where it's available. It may also build a nest in the attic or in the exterior walls of a house, often to the consternation of the homeowner. In addition, the squirrel may inhabit a permanent tree den.
Eastern gray squirrels are more active during the early and late hours of the day, and tend to avoid the heat in the middle of a summer day. They do not hibernate.
Predators include humans, hawks, mustelids, skunks, raccoons, domestic and feral cats, snakes, owls and dogs. On occasion, a squirrel may lose part of its tail while escaping a predator.
Photographed by Craig Glenn in the Magnolia tree in our front yard.
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