By Cheryl Conley, TWRC Wildlife Center
What do these three words have in common—grey, fox and flyer? If you guessed they are all in the squirrel family, you would be correct. Squirrels are the most widely known and recognized of mammals and inhabit all continents except Antarctica and Australia.
Squirrels have 4 front teeth, two on top and two on the bottom, that continue to grow throughout their lives. Constant gnawing helps to keep them short and sharp.
At TWRC Wildlife Center, we have two non-releasable grey squirrels that are used as Animal Ambassadors. These squirrels don’t have access to the outdoors so TWRC must provide them with materials they would find in the wild to keep their teeth trimmed. One of the squirrels has a malocclusion, the result of a fall when he was a baby. Because of the injury, we must file his teeth every month. If not done, it would eventually cause his death because he would be unable to eat.
Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis)
- Predominantly grey in color with a whitish belly.
- They are about 14 to 20 inches long with a 7 to 10 inch tail.
- They have 22 teeth.
- Tend to give birth twice a year.
Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger)
- This is the largest tree squirrel.
- They have a reddish-orange belly.
- They are 18-29 inches long not counting their tail which is about a foot long.
- They have 20 teeth.
- Can have two litters per year but typically only have one.
Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys volans)
- There is a membrane, called a patagium, between their front and back legs that allows them to glide from tree to tree. They can glide up to 150 feet.
- They are nocturnal. This is the reason so few people ever see one.
- They are about 9 inches long with a 4 inch tail and weigh about 3 ounces
- Their preferred den sites are holes in stumps and cavities in trees.
Spring babies are already being brought to TWRC Wildlife Center. If you find squirrel babies, we are here to help. During business hours, we’re happy to answer your questions over the phone—713-468-TWRC. If it’s after hours, go to our website for helpful information: www.twrcwildlifecenter.org.