Gray Squirrel & Fox Squirrel Comparison

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Grey squirrels, as they're known in the UK, are more commonly known as eastern gray squirrels in North America. Eastern gray and fox squirrels have a similar range across the United States and are sometimes confused with one another. They're two distinct squirrel species. Although the two species have some similarities, they have a range of differences, too.

Appearance

Since they're in the same genus, both eastern gray and fox squirrels look fairly similar in terms of basic bodily structure. However, on closer inspection, they have a range of differences. Weighing an average of 28 ounces, fox squirrels are much larger than their eastern gray cousins, who weigh just 19 ounces on average. Fox squirrels tend to have longer coats, bushier tails and more hair on their ears. Eastern gray squirrels are mostly gray-brown in color, whereas fox squirrels have a hue that's more red or orange amidst a gray background.

Range and Habitat

Fox and eastern gray squirrels have overlapping native ranges. They both can be found over most of the eastern United States and southern Canada. Fox squirrels also make northern Mexico their home and have spread further west across North America. Both species are mostly arboreal, which means they spend much of their lives in the trees, although they do come down to forage for food. They prefer to live in forests, but can be found in other wooded areas, or anywhere with plenty of trees.

Reproduction

Eastern gray squirrels tend to reproduce twice each year. Breeding seasons are between December and February, and May and June. Fox squirrels, however, are able to mate at any time of year, although breeding activity does tend to increase in January and June. Females can have two litters in a year but usually have only one. Eastern gray squirrels give birth to litters of between two and eight babies, whereas fox squirrels have litters of one to six.

Diet

Both species are omnivorous, but fox squirrels have a more varied diet that includes nuts, seeds, leaves, grains, fruits, insects, moths, eggs and dead fish or birds. Eastern grays have slightly more specific tastes. They prefer to eat nuts, seeds and buds from specific types of trees, including oak, walnut, hickory and pecan. However, they'll also eat insects, eggs, hatchling birds, carrion and frogs. Both species bury nuts and seeds so they can dig them up and eat them during the winter, when food is more scarce.

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