Grey squirrel

©Amy Lewis

Grey squirrel

Scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis
The grey squirrel was introduced into the UK in the 1800s. It provides an easy encounter with wildlife for many people, but can be damaging to woodlands and has contributed to the decline of the red squirrel.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 24-28.5cm
Tail: 19.5-24cm
Weight: 400-650g
Average lifespan: 2-5 years

Conservation status

The Grey squirrel is classified as an invasive non-native species.

When to see

January to December

About

One of our most familiar mammals, the grey squirrel can be found in woods, gardens and parks across town and country, and often proves to be very tame. It is a frequent visitor to gardens with bird tables and feeders, becoming a pest for many bird-lovers. Grey squirrels feast on hazelnuts by cracking the shell in half. You may also find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind. They will cache their food in autumn if it is abundant. Grey squirrels make a rough nest, called a 'drey' out of twigs, leaves and strips of bark in the fork of a branch, high up in the tree canopy. Females may have two litters of three to four young a year.

How to identify

The grey squirrel has a silver-grey coat, with a brownish face and feet, and pale underside. It has a characteristically bushy tail. It is easily distinguished from the Red Squirrel by its larger size, grey fur, and smaller ears without tufts.

Distribution

Widespread in England, Wales and central Scotland.

Did you know?

Grey squirrels are renowned for their agility, adept climbing and cunning - they can crack open bird feeders and run along tight-rope washing lines to get at their nutty prize.