Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis

A common mammal of the neighborhood in Canada, it is seen scurrying on parapets and on top of houses, on pine trees and maples. I spent a pleasant time photographing and video-shooting these squirrels.

Here is one of her stance where she curiously and slyly gave me a glance. It is a squirrel native to Eastern and Midwestern USA and southerly Canada. It was introduced in UK and has largely displaced the native Red Squirrel (S. vulgaris). The Gray Squirrel shares its distribution with Fox Squirrel, which is often confused to be a Gray Squirrel. - Wikipedia

From my observations, I found these squirrels fairly common in Mississauga – a suburb of Toronto, and came across several but rather uncommon melanistic forms. The melanistic forms were more conspicuous compared to the common, ordinary squirrels. I also found them to be timid as compared to the latter.

On a contrary, in London ON, I saw a healthy population of the melanistic Eastern Gray Squirrels, about three individuals per one ordinary squirrel. I cannot ascertain why such a difference, but surprisingly, the melanistic squirrels here are not as shy as in Mississauga, and will be often seen sniffing right beside the path. I have seen only two ordinary coated squirrels here.

The melanistic form, which is almost entirely black, is predominant in certain populations and in certain geographic areas, such as in large parts of southeastern Canada. - Wikipedia
It is a typical pose of a squirrel that defines its binomial name. According to Wikipedia, “The genus, Sciurus, is derived from two Greek words, skia, meaning shadow, and oura, meaning tail. This name alludes to the squirrel sitting in the shadow of its tail.

Given HERE is the video that show’s one of the Squirrel behaviors. The Squirrel sat all cuddled up in the pose in the above picture.

After sensing my presence, this Squirrel started making squeaking and chucking sounds. It started wagging its tail and seemed to tell me “I have seen you!” It is a warning signal that Squirrels all over the world use, in territorial disputes, or in presence of a predator such as a raptor or a snake. This squirrel did not start displaying warning signs until I was pretty close to her (at about 15 feet). I presumed a low profile, laying flat on the ground and making no sudden movements. After a while I stood to my feet and the squirrel – in a fraction of a second – vanished in the trees. This is because she probably thought my stance to be threatening and big. It is obvious and easy to observe this behavior – whether you are in the field or, just gardening in your backyard!

All these squirrels observed were not tamed in anyway and I did not see people feeding them, which is a good thing. They do however visit backyards and eat up the pears and apples! These squirrels are the wild-neighbors who now share their natural habitat with a human habitat. Rest of the wild-neighbor list includes Raccoons, Skunks and Rabbits, and in areas close to woods – White Tailed Deer.

I am glad to have sighted these until now, but never had an opportunity to photograph them. The squirrels, on the other hand, are always present and give you a nice company if you’re alone! I find it amusing to see them chuckle and play around trees and lawns as I walk huddled in a hoodie to the lectureroom.

For more on Eastern Gray Squirrel - HERE (Wikipedia)

For more on Fox Squirrel - HERE (Wikipedia)

And another very interesting documentation on Eastern Gray Squirrel -HERE (Hiker's Notebook)

This is my first post away from India. I squeezed out time to do some natural observations around my base in Canada, and this is the creature that struck me first. Keep watching for more!

No comments:

Post a Comment