Grey Squirrel - Sciurus carolinensis


    Grey Squirrels are distinguished from Red Squirrels by their grey fur, smaller ear tufts and their larger, more robust build. Some Greys have a brown/red coat, particularly behind the neck, which leads to some confusion with Red Squirrels. Greys sit with their large bushy tail arched over the back. Head and body length: 23-30 cm, tail length: 19-25 cm, Weight (adult): 400-600 gm. Just occasionally a pure white albino may occur. According to wildlife experts the odds against a pure white squirrel being born are one in 100,000.

    Identification difficulty

    Common in deciduous and mixed woodland, they are also found in hedgerows, trees, parks and gardens.

    When to see it

    All year round

    Life History

    Life span up to 9 years. Grey Squirrels live in a compact, spherical nest (drey), 30-60 cm in diameter, with an outer frame of twigs and dry leaves and grass inside. They will occasionally take over nest boxes erected for owls and other large birds. They are diurnal, active from before sunrise to after sunset. The peak of activity is in the autumn. Their range covers 2-10 hectares. Females produce a litter of usually three young in the spring or late summer (or occasionally both), after a gestation period of 42-45 days. The young are weaned after 10 weeks and are independent at 16 weeks. They are considered a pest of forestry and are often killed on roads. They eat a range of foods such as tree bark, seeds and acorns, nuts and some types of fungi. They will also predate any bird nests that they discover, taking the eggs, young or even a tight-sitting adult bird.

    UK Status

    Grey Squirrels are an alien species and were introduced to the UK from the USA in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Their success has been to the detriment of our native Red Squirrels, more through spreading disease (squirrel pox) than outright competition. They are widespread throughout England and Wales, south of Cumbria and are common in local pockets in Scotland.

    VC55 Status

    Common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

    be our species champion

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map