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  Rodentia · Sciuridae · Sciurus niger

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Sciurus niger

Eastern Fox Squirrel

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

Image of Sciurus niger
Sciurus niger - typical color, right; southeastern variation, top left; black variation, center top; black-headed variation, lower center
Click to enlarge. (75 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Eastern Fox Squirrels have long, foxtail-like tails, which they flick when they are excited. They and Eastern Gray Squirrels are alike in many ways. They breed at the same time of year, nest in the same kind of places, and eat the same foods. However, Fox Squirrels prefer more open habitat, whereas Grays prefer good tree cover. Fox Squirrels spend more time foraging and running about on the ground than do the grays, and may be encountered in fields quite far from any trees, where gray squirrel would not stray. Both species feed on acorns, which are rich in tannins. Tannins are poisonous to many animals, including worms, and keep the squirrels free of roundworms and tapeworms. Fox Squirrels accumulate another chemical compound, porphyrin, in their bones and teeth, which makes their bones and teeth pink and bright red under ultraviolet light. Here's a mystery: Gray Squirrels eat the same foods and this does not happen to them—nor to any other healthy mammal.

Also known as:
Fox Squirrel, Cat Squirrel, Stump-eared Squirrel

Sexual Dimorphism:

Average: 595 mm
Range: 454-698 mm

Average: 800 g
Range: 696-1,233 g


Linnaeus, C., 1758.  Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classis, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, p. 64.  Tenth Edition, Vol. 1. Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, 1(2):1-824.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account *
* PDF reader available here (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Sciurus niger

Image of Sciurus niger
Click to enlarge. (53kb)

Skull of Sciurus niger
Click to enlarge. (27kb)

Image of Sciurus niger
Sciurus niger ssp. limitis
Click to enlarge. (154kb)