The eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is either a boon for those who consider them cute and like to watch their antics or a bane to those who want just birds to sample their backyard suet and seeds. While at my parents’ house over Christmas I watched the many, many, Gray Squirrels congregating around and squabbling over the backyard suet feeders and spilled sunflower seeds. My parents seem divided on the issue, with my father mostly seeing them as a fluffy-tailed hoard out to deprive the birds of food and him the enjoyment of watching birds and my mother finding the squirrels as enjoyable as the birds.
I stay neutral on the issue of squirrels, but I must say that when I stepped out the front door of my parents’ house and watched squirrels coming out of the woods on the other side of the road, across the front yard, and around the house to feast on the bounty my folks provide I started to see them a bit more from my father’s perspective. One or two squirrels around the feeders are nice; 21 squirrels at once (my father’s high count so far this year) are a bit overwhelming.
And it’s not as if they don’t have natural food to eat. The eastern Gray Squirrel
feeds mostly on nuts, flowers and buds of more than 24 species of oaks, 10 species of hickory, pecan, walnut and beech tree species. Maple, mulberry, hackberry, elm, bucky and horse chestnut fruits, seeds, bulbs or flowers are also eaten along with wild cherry, dogwood, hawthorn, black gum, hazelnut, hop hornbeam and gingko tree fruits, seeds, bulbs and/or flowers. The seeds and catkins of gymnosperms such as cedar, hemlock, pine, and spruce are another food source along with a variety of herbaceous plants and fungi. Crops, such as corn and wheat, are eaten, especially in the winter. Insects are eaten in the summer and are probably especially important for juveniles. Cannibalism has been reported, and squirrels may also eat bones, bird eggs and nestlings, and frogs. (source)
Gray Squirrels will go to great lengths for food, as evidenced by this video (that I first saw on The Hawk Owl’s Nest) and the picture below of one carefully getting the last bits of some homemade suet dough.
But despite their voracious appetites there is something fun about watching them figure out a new food source, like the giant trapezoid of goodness that was one element of my dad’s bird-feeding friendly Christmas.
What is this?
Whatever it is it smells good…
Thank you merciful and generous humans. May I have another?
So, I guess I am still on the fence when it comes to Gray Squirrels. What about you?
Fluffy-tailed Tree Rats. That’s what they are plain and simple. People see a regular Rat and the go Ewww, they see a Squirrel and suddenly they are cute?
I have to place heavy rocks on my garbage, because these buggers have chewed through every plastic garbage can I own. I eventually had to buy a metal one, but even then they found ways to get the top off. 50 pounds of weight has seemed to stop them. Not only that they have broken into my house on more than one occasion.
I strongly dislike them.
Foe at my feeder! Great shots and glad they are raiding your feeder and not mine! I have not seen Gray Squirrels at my feeders in a while!
Foe! FOE!! Especially the ones that have developed a taste for my hot pepper suet, my last best hope for preventing their cleaning me out.
Curse them all!
Just another aspect of nature to enjoy. Give in, get them a squirrel friendly area of their own and enjoy. AND if you live in the right area, keep an eye on the feeders at night. A friend regularly had Flying Squirrels visit their Squirrel friendly feeder at night. Spectacular animal.
These things are as over populated as deer! We trap as many as we can and take them to a section of woods about 10 miles from where we live. We did okay for awhile but then I got injured and couldn’t get the trap out so lo and behold they increased in numbers I swear by 3 fold (I think they knew I was still recovering) and it set us back quite a bit. And now they are breaking my sunflower stalks!! My dogwoods are just about hanging in there. This year though, I’m back on track so look out suckers. Pack your bags, your movin out!!!!!!
They’re harmless. Doing considerably less destruction than humans and not deliberately hurting or harming anything. They spend their days mooching around looking for sources of protein (nuts). Can be annoying and pesky but not so bad that they deserve the brutal slaying and treatment constantly inflicted on them. I know of dogs and cats that cause more damage and annoyance. We wouln’t consider catching and bludgeoning one of them to death or poisoning it with warfarin. Live and let live.
I place food in the bird feeders for the birds and on the ground for the squirrels, and birds who are ground feeders. Everyone seems happy with this arrangment. My house backs onto Fillmore Glenn State Park (in the finger lakes area of New York), and the array of birds I see at my feeders is spectacular. Killing squirrels is so uneccessary and cruel!!
they are tree rats..plain and simple. Yes, they are very cute…especially when you have a close up through telescopic sights! greys were mistakenly introduced from california to the UK in the 1800’s and their numbers have exploded. they damage trees, attack bird nests, and most importantly displace the native red squirrel through aggression and viral infection. our native red is in tune with our natural habitat, contributes to the habitat and are a pleasure to observe. Bring back the Red.. away with the grey!! i am experienced with a air rifle and have countless greys to my name. the best time to hunt them is during the autumn months. but they are active all year round.if you notice a lot of these parasites in your vicinity, buy youself a decent .22 air rifle and cleanse our land of this grey scum!! there are only 28,000 of our reds left and their numbers are falling. there are over 2.2 million greys encroaching our land and their numbers are growing. they are not harmless. they have caused a lot of damage to our nataural habitat.and must be controlled. reds are a protected and ENDANGERED speices. help them survive. Thank you