Wild Fact #134 – A Snowy Social Life – Eastern Fox Squirrel

Largest North American Squirrel - Eastern Fox Squirrel

Photo by Calibas (Wikimedia)

Did You Know?

  • The Eastern Fox Squirrel (also known simply as the Fox Squirrel) is the largest tree squirrel native to North America
  • Compared to other tree squirrels this particular species tends to spend more of their time hanging out on the ground
  • The Eastern Fox Squirrel tends to be a solitary animal, except during the cold winter months

A Winter Socialite

Have you ever stopped to think about why a solitary animal would all of a sudden become social during the winter? What do you mean you haven’t thought about this before? Well, there is no time like the present so I would like you to ask yourself why the Eastern Fox Squirrel relies on “friends” during the snowy season. Before we get into the answer, I guess I should qualify that these squirrels do not build friendships like other rodents as they do not groom each other or nuzzle to maintain their friendship bonds. Instead, they join up to share food caches inside of large trees. So I guess this makes the reasoning a little apparently. Food is scarce during the winter so in order to ensure their survival they join forces with other Fox Squirrels and share the food equally between them. This is not a bad idea and I love when animals collaborate in order to survive as a species. After all, this is what ecology is all about, isn’t it?

Eastern Fox Squirrel - North America

Photo by Davefoc (Wikimedia)

Largest North American Squirrel

Above we mentioned that the Eastern Fox Squirrel is the largest tree squirrel in native to North America. So just how big are these furry rodents? The average size of this particular squirrel is about 45 to 70 cm (17.7 to 27.6″) in length…and this is not counting their 33 cm (13″) long tail. If you stop for a moment and think about this (and I recommend that you do), you will quickly realize that a squirrel measuring over 3 feet (if you include their tail) is incredibly large, especially if they are as creepy looking as the Eastern Grey Squirrel (I don’t know why but they creep me out). Interestingly enough, these gigantic squirrels are still very adept to living a life in the trees, even if they spend most of their time on the ground. I guess when you are this large you can choose where you want to live without having to take slack from anyone or anything.

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