#WildLifeWednesday – “Furry Critters Part 1 – Those Squirrely Guys”

Happy #WildlifeWednesday, everybody!  Today, we’re taking a look at some of Central Florida’s furry critters, specifically squirrels, and I hope you’ll enjoy learning about the species we have in this part of the state. Again, I’m using some of the slides from my local PowerPoint presentation, so I can condense more info into less space. 

WARNING: This post has a LOT of images, but I decided not to split it into separate posts. The slides contain  a great deal of information, explanations, and fun tidbits. Feel free to read (and ask questions below) if you like, or simply enjoy the pictures, if that sort of data isn’t your thing.

Hope you’ll enjoy it all. Lots to cover today, including some facts and images that may surprise the heck outta you, so let’s get started.

Once again, how many squirrels does Central Florida have?

Let’s start with the very familiar Eastern Gray Squirrel.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel is our most common species, and a typical backyard visitor, though I have some photos later on that will surprise you.

As you can see, this is definitely an eastern species, though it does lap over into Canada. It has also crossed the Atlantic, but is considered an invasive species in Britain, since it had human help in getting there.

Considered ecologically essential to forest regeneration.

Crepuscular: most active during early morning and late afternoon hours of the day.

Monomorphic: males and females look the same.

Altricial: born naked and helpless, as opposed to precocial, meaning born ready to get up and go. Most mammals are altricial. Some birds are precocial (like baby chickens and ducks.)

The Melanistic (Black) Morph of the Eastern Grey squirrel can be spotted throughout its range.

Time to say goodbye to the Eastern Gray Squirrel, and take a look at some fox squirrels.There are many, many subspecies and color variations of fox squirrels. In Florida, our primary one is the Sherman’s fox squirrel, though sadly, I’m seeing fewer and fewer of these lately as their habitat disappears. 

With a body length nearly double that of a typical gray squirrel, and a tail that can be 13″ long, fox squirrels are the giants of our North American squirrels. They can weigh up to three times as much as the gray squirrel, too, and are simply beautiful animals.

The Sherman’s fox squirrel has a very limited range map and is considered a Species of Special Concern.

Bon Appetite!

And now it’s time for the Southern Flying Squirrel, a species that’s quite abundant in Central Florida, though nocturnal, so not seen nearly as often as the previous two. Too bad. It’s the cutest thing ever!

Note how small this guy is! Deduct 3-1/2 inches for the tail, and you have a body length of about 5 inches! Tiny, but amazing!

There’s a tiny bit of overlap between the southern flying squirrel and the northern one. But the species are very similar, with the only difference apparently being with the color of the fur on the abdomen. Easier to go by the location where the squirrel was spotted. In Florida, it will be the southern variety, naturally.

Can you imagine? AVERAGE glide for the southern flying squirrel is just under 65 feet! Glides the length of 295 feet have been recorded!! 

Flying squirrels will happily nest in boxes, where available for them.

Do note the size difference between the baby gray squirrel and the baby flying squirrel. These guys are TINY! 

Now how cool is this? Bioluminescence is extremely rare among mammals! You have to wonder why these guys have this trait.

Because … CUTE!
But now for something completely different. At least colorwise.


Albino and Leucistic animals can both be white, but they are not the same. (Hopefully, those who’ve read Swamp Ghosts will already know this. 😀 )


(This is quite different from leucistic animals, as seen below.)


Leucistic animals, like these above retain a certain amount of pigment, resulting in dark or blue eyes and much whiter fur, though they may exhibit spots or streaks of their normal coloration.


Albino (red dots) and Leucistic (blue dots) eastern gray squirrels occur in comparatively small numbers throughout their range. Florida has several areas of higher than normal concentrations of blue dots, both in the center of the state and in the panhandle.


And just when you think you’re getting a handle on albinos and leucistic squirrels, along comes what’s called the “champagne morph.” Still leucistic, but even the black coloration is diluted. 


Bye, Now! Y’all Come Back!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s #WildLifeWednesday, and maybe even learned a few new things here and there. Because we were dealing with three species of squirrels in one post, it is longer than most of these wildlife posts will be, but I hope it was worth it. Not sure what’s on the schedule for next time, but I’ll try to make it a good one. Hope you’ll stop by to check it out.

87 thoughts on “#WildLifeWednesday – “Furry Critters Part 1 – Those Squirrely Guys”

  1. Loved this and seeing all the different squirrels, the fox squirrels, and flying squirrels are adorable. We only have the gray squirrels here, but they keep me entertained. One time our cat brought home, unhurt, a baby squirrel that fell out of a 100-foot cedar. I put it back for a bit to see if mom would come back but it wasn’t safe there so I couldn’t wait too long. So I got it to the wildlife rescue and they took care of the little guy. Thanks for all the good pictures and information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Denise. I should have shared a wider range map of fox squirrels, but because I was dealing with Sherman’s fox squirrels, I ended up using the localized ones, because the range of that subspecies is quite small. In general, fox squirrels are found throughout most of the eastern half of the country. (Can’t remember where you are, but if it’s in the western half, you don’t have them, sadly. They are huge and beautiful!) And sometimes it’s impossible to get a baby squirrel back in the nest. I used to do some rehab for Audubon, and I’ve raised a few of them. I’m glad you were able to get help.

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  2. While I know they can be destructive critters, I sure enjoy watching them. Great photos, Marcia, If I’m ever in your neck of the woods (I’m on the other side of the country in California), I’d like to come to one of your presentations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe one of these days, when travel becomes less problematic, you’ll visit us way over here in southeast. 🙂 Would love to have you come to a presentation. We have lots of fun with them! 🙂 And yes, gray squirrels can be very destructive, but they are so smart, you have to admire them, too. Fox squirrels and flying squirrels are nowhere near as problematic. 🙂

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    • Once in a while, in desperation, you’ll see another animal try it, but being able to rotate their hind feet makes that trick very easy for squirrels. Glad you enjoyed the post, Robbie. Hope you’ll continue to follow the series. LOTS of ideas for new stuff to share! 🙂

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  3. Awww! I used to see them often in the UK, but now that I’m back in Barcelona, I don’t have many chances. Of course, there are many you share that I’ve never seen, so this was a treat. Thanks, Marcia!

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Olga. I’ve never lived anywhere that didn’t have gray squirrels around. Fox squirrels are far less common and flying squirrels are just much harder to spot. Hope you’ll stay tuned to this series. I’ll try to find more “treats” for you, I promise! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Lynda. The full presentation has been quite popular around here, but is way too long for me to put into one post. I really enjoy sharing nature with folks, though, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for more of this series over the weeks ahead. Thanks for stopping by today! 🙂

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    • All baby squirrels are adorable, I think, but flying squirrel babies, even more so. Mark found one under a huge oak in our front yard once, and the mother was very upset, but we couldn’t reach the nest to return it. We ended up taking it to a rehab center where they already had three being cared for. It crawled right in among them immediately, and I knew it would be okay. Until that happened, I had no idea they were nesting in our yard. I’d never seen one here, though I’ve seen them when leading some night time canoe trips on the Wekiva River. And how about that BIOLUMENESCENCE thing?? Whoa! Who knew?

      Glad you enjoyed this and hope you’ll stay tuned for more in the series. 🙂

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  4. I have a love-hate relationship with those pesky little rodents. Like I hate then when they try to make nests beneath the hood of my car and cause repair bills. Or eat all the bird seed in my feeders.

    I have seen flying squirrels a time or two. They’re pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s certainly easy to find yourself in one of those relationships with gray squirrels. They can definitely become pests when they misbehave. I wouldn’t mind sharing bird food with them, except they’ll eat the entire feeder’s worth in one go if you let them. Though there are NO truly squirrel-proof feeders out there, I’ve managed to make it a lot more difficult for them to get into mine by mounting it on a pole high enough they can’t jump to it from the ground. It’s placed where they can’t jump to it from a tree or other object. It’s got a baffle, so they usually can’t climb up the pole, and beyond that, I grease the pole and baffle to make it even harder. STILL, once in a while, I see one stuffing his face as fast as he can, as though he knows I’ll be out any minute to chase him away. They are INCREDIBLY clever!

      And flying squirrels are wonderful! My favorites of all.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Joan. Hope you’ll enjoy following along with this series. 🙂

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        • Safflower seeds help. They WILL eat them, of course, but only when they can’t find sunflower seeds and other things they like. I’ve also heard that sprinkling cayenne pepper over the seeds helps keep them away without deterring birds. Tried it. Didn’t work. They’d just shake their heads and rub their faces a bit then keep on eating. Another trick is to give them something they like better and can access more easily, FAR away from the bird feeder. (Like dried corn on the cob, which you can find special feeders for.) That helps until they finish it. 😀

          And seeing them slip and slide on the pole IS pretty funny. The problem is in the summer, our heat melts the grease a bit, and makes it less effective, and a bit messy under the pole. So I only do it when I see that some smart little fuzzybutt has figured out how to jump past the baffle and get onto to the tray.

          Oh, and I quit using the feeders that have squirrel proof cages around them when I found a young squirrel that had gotten his head stuck in one and hung himself. 😦 THAT was something I didn’t want to see again! It’s a constant battle of wits, though since we’ve lost most of our larger trees now, we have considerably fewer squirrels. Sadly, we have fewer birds, too. 😦

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  5. Loved this! I thought I knew quite a bit about squirrels; seems I was wrong! We only have the grey ones in Wales and, yes, they’re seen as pests because the red squirrels can’t compete with them and are declining rapidly. They’re also determined robbers of nut feeders for birds and I had one that actually bit through and then unwove the metal strands to access them. That’s one of the reasons I find them fascinating – they’ll work out a way no matter how complex the systems are that are put in place to foil them. Those flying squirrels with their huge eyes are definitely cute!

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    • Your gray squirrels are problematic because they don’t belong there, making them an “exotic” species in your area and invasive as the dickens. I believe I read they were introduced by humans and then got out of control. (We humans do that a lot. It’s why the Florida Everglades now have a thriving population of Burmese pythons that are wreaking havoc on the native wildlife!) And you are right. Gray squirrels are the kings of robbing birdfeeders. People spend a fortune over here for squirrel-proof ones, but there really aren’t any that work 100% of the time. Not if the squirrel is hungry enough.

      I always tell folks my yard squirrels will ponder a new bird feeder from every angle. You can see their little brains going, “Hmmmm. Now I bet if I try it from over there, I can reach it. And then, I’ll find the weakest spot and chew through that, and then I’ll FEAST!” Smart and determined. You gotta admire that, even if it drives you crazyl 😀

      Glad you enjoyed this one, Trish, and hope you’ll follow along with this series in the weeks ahead! 🙂 (And I agree on the flying squirrels. So adorable!)

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    • They are clever little creatures, certainly. They are problem solvers. (I am of the opinion that we humans underestimate the intelligence of animals. Just because they can’t talk ane explain themselves we assume they aren’t intelligent, and say ‘Well, it’s instinct.’)
      I love our indigenous squirrels. There are still a few spots where they can be found, but I do not like the interloping greys. I understand it’s not so much that they outcompete the reds. Their foods are not exactly the same, but greys carry sqirrel pox, to which they are immune, but the reds aren’t.

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      • I agree on how clever animals are, and it’s not always instinct. I’ve seen squirrels, in particular, study situations from all angles until they figure out the solution. I don’t put their reasoning capacity on a level with humans, (though that CAN depend on the human in question, I guess), but I do know they learn from experience, and some animals can solve complicated problems.

        Gray squirrels are fine where they belong. Intelligent, funny, entertaining, and sometimes annoying problems. But any animal released into an area where it doesn’t belong can become a major problem and upset the entire balance of the new habitat. Sorry that’s the case in Britain. You’d likely enjoy them over here, where they can be prolific, but not out of control and displacing native species. 🙂

        Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to share your thoughts! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Craig. Glad you enjoyed it. Mark found a baby flying squirrel in our yard a few years ago. Until then, I had no idea they were nesting in our trees. Though I’ve fed many orphaned gray squirrels back in the day, I had no idea how to care for this one, and we had no way to put it back where it belonged, so it went to a rehabber. But I have seen them now and then while leading night time canoe trips on the Wekiva River. They are spotted now and then, gliding back and forth across the narrow parts of the stream. Poetry in motion! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you’ll enjoy this series as it continues with other critters and birds. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think they are, and the huge fox squirrels are absolutely stunning in their color variations. They are about double the size of a gray squirrel, and happily, they are not urban animals, typically. No fox squirrels are likely to be raiding feeders, at least not our Sherman’s fox squirrels. Much too shy for that, I think, and getting scarce, too.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Staci. Hope you’ll enjoy following this series.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Jeanne. Alas, though the gray squirrels are fast, even they can’t outrace a car. And huge fox squirrels tend to lope along a lot more slowly, making them even more likely to get hit. The one thing in their favor is that they aren’t as “urbanized” as gray squirrels, so are usually spotted in more rural or remote areas, where there’s less traffic.

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you’ll follow along with this series. I’ll be covering all kinds of things in the weeks ahead. Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

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    • So glad you enjoyed it, Sue. And if you glide far enough, with lots of control, it’s ALMOST as good as flying! 😀 Thanks for stopping by. I’m trying to do these posts every other Wednesday. We’ll see if I can keep up the schedule. 🙂 Hope you’ll stop by often. 🙂

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  6. Wow! Bioluminescence and gliding 65-295 feet. Amazing! Thanks for sharing, Marcia. I adore squirrels.

    Now, as a crime writer, y’know I gotta share the darker side of squirrel life, right? LOL Gray squirrels take afternoon naps every day, which is why they’re more active in the morning and late afternoon. But do you know what occurs during nap time? The males pleasure themselves up to 5 times per day! And the females…poor babies, they don’t have the right to say no to mating. If a female doesn’t give in, she is raped. I wish I never learned that. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I certainly knew they bred often and frequently, but have never heard it explained quite like that. I guess squirrels don’t realize that no means no, huh? And no wonder there are so many of them. I’m guessing this applies more to gray squirrels than some of the other species, since they have very different life styles from fox squirrels, for instance. I foresee more research in my future. 😀

      And I knew somebody had to pick up on the bioluminescence thingie. Should have known it would be you! 😀 Plus the length of those glides is astonishing, isn’t it? That little bitty thing sailing through the air for the length of a soccer field??? Unbelievable!

      Glad you enjoyed this Sue, and thanks for sharing that … erm …disturbing tidbit! 😀 Hope you’ll enjoy this series as it progresses. 🙂

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        • While I know squirrels can be destructive in attics and inside walls now and then, I hate the idea of any kind of trap other than the Hav-A-Heart types, too. Eeek. Generally, it’s the gray squirrels causing problems (the scamps) rather than flying ones, though. I’m with you. I could no more do something that might hurt one than I could hurt my own pets. They are just too cute. Maybe you can find a way to block their entry route. (After the nest is empty and the adults are gone, of course.) And in the meantime, keep flashing those photos!! 😀

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  7. Such cute photos! The flying squirrels in gliding stage are really cool.
    There is a pure white squirrel near my dentist’s office. I’ve seen it twice, but don’t know if it’s an albino or leucistic since I haven’t been close enough to tell. My hubby still doesn’t believe I’ve seen it, LOL!

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    • Oooh, cool, Mae. I’ve seen a pair of them ONCE at a park farther north, but we have a mini-colony or two here in central Florida and in the panhandle. My nephew & family lived near enough that the white leucistic squirrels visited their yard. So cool!

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Mae, and hope you’ll stay tuned for more in this series. Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

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    • AW, thanks so much, John! Squirrels are pretty interesting critters and definitely too smart for their own good at times. And hey, maybe you’re onto something with the nightlight thing! Works for me. (You know, if I wrote children’s books, I might consider that the basis of a pretty cool tale. 😀 )

      So glad you enjoyed this one, and hope you’ll be following along in the weeks ahead. Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always happy to be able to share something new to a reader or audience member. Fox squirrels are nearly twice the size of gray squirrels and very, very beautiful creatures. Actually, their tail is about the length of a gray squirrel from nose to tail tip! Even the smallest Foxies are 30″ long or so. Imagine! So glad you enjoyed meeting them, Jan! Hope you’ll have fun with future posts in this series, too. Thanks for stopping by today! 🙂

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  8. Okay, ‘unaware Australian’ post coming now: why (on movies and TV) do Americans freak out when a squirrel runs towards them? They scream, throw their hands in the air and run. Is this real? Are squirrels thought of like rats?

    As a foreigner, I think they’re ADORABLE! They kind of remind me of our possums. I remember when we visited the states, and the first time we saw a squirrel, we both screeched with delight and froze, transfixed, but ages. People were looking at us like we were loons. Then, every time we saw one, we’d yell “Squirrel” and point and dance and laugh. Good times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You got me, kid, but only because I’ve never seen anyone do that. Generally, people either enjoy them and toss them a piece of popcorn or nut of some sort, or hate them because they steal all the bird food and sometimes tear their way into attics to nest. (That’s mostly in areas where it gets colder at night, though.)

      I’ve never seen anyone run from a squirrel, but then again, squirrels don’t usually run toward people, either. They usually either dash away just far enough to be out of reach, or they sit in a tree and scold you.

      If I’d never seen one before, I’d do the same thing you did, but of course, since they are common to the point of absurdity many places, ooohing and aaahing over them might make some folks wonder where you live that you’d be so impressed. (For sure, they’d figure you were from outta town.) 😀

      Squirrels don’t even carry rabies, so I’m at a loss for why anyone would scream, but again, most wild animals don’t run directly toward humans, so that might startle folks.

      And that’s my best guess, Jessica. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. But glad you stopped by today, anyway. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    What a wonderful detailed and illustrated post from Marcia Meara on the squirrels native to Florida and the Eastern states. We were lucky to have red squirrels inhabiting the pine trees in our garden in Spain.. wiped out in the UK when the greys moved in… Head over to enjoy this master class…and two more posts to come on other mammals in the region.. #fascinating..

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Absolutely wonderful post Marcia and fabulous detail.. our red squirrels in Spain used to give Sam a run for his money and they would wait until he was directly underneath then pelt him with cones… they also used our electronic gate as part of their network and inadvertently on occasion we would press the open button from the car only to find squirrels racing to get to the end…very entertaining and I met one or two face to face when they would sneak up onto the terrace which resulted in some shrieking on both sides lol… xxx♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Sally. I do wish I could present the entire program, but it’s way too long. This post was pushing the limit, as it was, but I really wanted to showcase the three species and subspecies we have here in Florida. I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Believe it or not, I’ve never seen a red squirrel. We don’t have them in Florida, but they sure look cute in pictures. And they sound every bit as clever as the grays!

      Thanks for stopping by today. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. Will have more furry later on. Something completely different next time, though. 😀 You’ll have to tune in to find out. 😉

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  11. A wonderful post Marcia…awesome images…we have Finlayson’s squirrel here and I have some who live in my eaves and share my Jackfruit and mangoes…I always enjoy watching their antics in the morning as they balance on the electric wires and run around the banana tree outside my bedroom window …When they breed they make a racket running above me when I am trying to sleep but the other day she was calling I wondered what the sound was and then I thought maybe it was either a mating call or a get back home call to the kiddies..My resident ones are similar in colour to the champagne morphs you featured just a little more golden…I did love the post…Thank you for sharing 🙂

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  12. Interesting post. You commented earlier about the grey squirrels being released. I understand it was in Regents Park in London where it happened.
    As you said, the pythons in the Everglades, rabbits created havoc in Australia, and I believe a cactus did, too. Mink have caused decimation of wildlife along British rivers, released by well-meaning, but unthinking animal rights activists. Parakeets seem to be everywhere in Europe.
    As these things are not native, they have few, if any, natural predators, so get out of control and often cause irreparable damage to native species.
    But tose flying squirrels are cuteness personified.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think in many, many cases (especially with larger reptiles) these releases happen because people have chosen poor animals for pets, and when they become nuisances or outgrow their cages, they dump them. I’d like to think that most animal-rights activists would know better than to release non-native species, but then again, when people get worked up over any issue, they seem to lose most (if not all) of their common sense. Either way, releasing animals where they don’t belong is one of the worst things you can do for the environment, and often for the animal that was just released. Not all of them are as successful at taking over a new environment as some, and whether they do or whether they simply die, it’s a tragedy. Period.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Each of these guys belongs here, and two of the three are doing just fine, population wise. The Sherman’s fox squirrel is in decline due to loss of habitat. It’s not a common urban critter, but such a beautiful one, I’d like to think it will continue to hang on, if not actually thrive.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

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    • We have several more species in the western part of the U. S., Toni, but I was only focused on the 3 species (plus subspecies) we have here in Florida. And I’ve been learning about a lot of other types in other countries, too. I guess that makes squirrels a pretty adaptable animal, all around. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this new feature, and hope you’ll stay tuned for all sorts of Florida critters and birds ahead.

      Thanks for stopping by to say hello. 🙂

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