Western Gray Squirrel

Category:

Actual Size: Head and body with tail, 18 to 24” long.

Characteristics: Steel gray color on its back; white on the belly and throat.

Habitat: Found in woodland, suburban, as well as urban habitats. Live in the trees.

Habits:

  • Are often confused with Eastern Gray Squirrels.
  • May carry bacterial diseases that can spread to humans.
  • Eat mostly plant matter, such as seeds, nuts, acorns, tree buds, berries, leaves, and twigs.

Western Gray Squirrels in the Pacific Northwest

The western gray squirrel, found in the Pacific Northwest, is known for its large size among tree squirrels. Its back is a steel gray color, while its belly and throat are white, leading to its alternate name, the “silver gray squirrel” in certain areas. These squirrels are easily recognized by their long, bushy tails that are mostly gray but have frosted white edges. Additionally, they sport prominent ears that may turn reddish-brown in winter, though this detail is subtle and only noticeable up close, being the only brown part of their appearance.

Western Gray Squirrel Habitat

Squirrels utilize two types of nests: tree cavity dens and leaf nests called dreys. Leaf nests are usually used during summer and are found in the top fork of a tree or in the crotch of a limb. The number of active nests per squirrel is thought to be about three, depending on the density of squirrels in the area. Most squirrels are capable of constructing a nest in one day. If they have access, they will build nests in attics or structures. Once inside, these rodents will gnaw on electrical wiring in walls and attics causing shorts and possibly even fires. Nests of western gray squirrels are sizable and commonly found grouped together in dry oak and conifer forests.

Western Gray Squirrel Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Squirrels do not hibernate and use their nests for resting and shelter, especially during the cold winter months. If you notice a squirrel’s nest on your property, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Squirrels may bite or attack if provoked, especially if their young are present. Squirrels may carry bacterial diseases that can be spread to humans through bites or by coming into contact with their feces. Signs of a squirrel infestation include noises in attics, chimneys, walls, or vents. Holes on siding, damaged bird feeders, and chewed wires and insulation are evidence of squirrel nests in the attic. If you are having an issue with western gray squirrels, it is best to consult a professional wildlife control company for removal.