What Squirrels Are Native to North America?

Are you curious about the native squirrels of North America? Well, you’re in luck! This article will comprehensively overview the various squirrel species that call North America home.

From the Arctic Ground Squirrel to the American Red Squirrel, the California Ground Squirrel to the Eastern Gray Squirrel, we’ll explore their habitat preferences, diet, behavior, and physical characteristics.

So, let’s dive in and discover what makes these native squirrels unique and fascinating!

Key Takeaways

  • Arctic Ground Squirrel, American Red Squirrel, California Ground Squirrel, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Douglas Squirrel, Aberts Squirrel, Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel, Harriss Antelope Ground Squirrel, Fox Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Western Gray Squirrel, Northern Flying Squirrel, Southern Flying Squirrel, Arizona Gray Squirrel, and Abert’s Squirrel are native to North America.
  • Fox Squirrels are the largest tree squirrel in the United States and are native to parts of Canada, Mexico, and the eastern half of the United States.
  • Eastern Chipmunks are small, striped squirrels commonly found in the eastern United States.
  • Western Gray Squirrels are native to the western United States and are known for their gray fur and bushy tails.

Arctic Ground Squirrel

If you’re interested in learning about squirrels native to North America, the Arctic Ground Squirrel hibernates for 7-8 months of the year and performs supercooling behavior during hibernation. This species exhibits several behavioral adaptations to survive in its harsh habitat.

They prefer open tundra or alpine meadow environments, where they dig burrows for shelter and protection. Arctic Ground Squirrels have a promiscuous mating system, with males competing for access to females. They give birth to a litter of 5-10 young in the spring, and the females care for the offspring.

Regarding diet, Arctic Ground Squirrels are omnivorous, feeding on various plant material, insects, and carrion. They are preyed upon by predators such as foxes, wolves, and birds of prey. Climate change and habitat loss pose significant threats to their population.

American Red Squirrel

An image showcasing the vibrant American Red Squirrel in its natural habitat

You can find the American Red Squirrel in parts of Canada and the northern United States, where they prefer coniferous forests. These squirrels have unique behavioral adaptations that allow them to thrive in their habitat.

They are highly territorial and will defend their territory vigorously against intruders. American Red Squirrels also have a complex communication system, using vocalizations and tail movements to signal danger or communicate with other squirrels.

Regarding reproduction, they have a breeding season that typically occurs in the early spring. Female squirrels will construct nests made of twigs and leaves in the branches of trees to give birth and raise their young.

These squirrels play an important role in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and contributing to the overall biodiversity of their habitat.

California Ground Squirrel

An image showcasing the vibrant California Ground Squirrel, endemic to North America

The California Ground Squirrel, commonly found in California, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington, lives in open areas such as parks and fields. Its habitat preferences include grasslands, meadows, and agricultural areas.

The life cycle of the California Ground Squirrel begins with mating in the spring, followed by a gestation period of approximately 30 days. Females give birth to a litter of 5-10 young, who remain in the burrow for the first 6-8 weeks of their lives.

During hibernation, which typically occurs from late fall to early spring, the California Ground Squirrel enters a state of torpor, reducing its metabolic rate and conserving energy.

Predators and threats to the California Ground Squirrel include coyotes, foxes, hawks, and snakes. Currently, the California Ground Squirrel is listed as a species of least concern in terms of conservation status.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

An image showcasing the Eastern Gray Squirrel, a native North American species

Eastern Gray Squirrels, found in the eastern half of Canada and the United States, are social animals and are not territorial except when defending their nests. These squirrels have adapted to various habitats, including forests, parks, and suburban areas. They are known to be excellent climbers and can easily navigate tree branches.

Eastern Gray Squirrels play a crucial role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers. They hoard and bury acorns and other nuts, some of which are forgotten and grow into new trees. Additionally, they serve as a food source for predators such as hawks and foxes.

Interactions between Eastern Gray Squirrels and other species include competing for food and nesting sites. Conservation efforts for these squirrels focus on protecting their habitats and promoting responsible feeding practices.

Douglas Squirrel

Douglas Squirrels, found in the western United States, have a distinct reddish-brown coloration with a chestnut-colored belly.

These squirrels have fascinating nesting habits in the pine forests. They build their nests, called dreys, using twigs and leaves, and line them with soft materials like moss and feathers.

Douglas squirrels are primarily seed and nut eaters. They prefer conifer seeds, such as those from pine, fir, and spruce trees.

When it comes to vocalization patterns, Douglas squirrels communicate with each other using a variety of calls to warn of predators. They emit a high-pitched alarm call when they sense danger.

Douglas squirrels prefer the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest because these habitats provide abundant food sources and suitable nesting sites. Their unique reddish-brown coloration helps them blend in with the trees and avoid detection by predators.

Abert’s Squirrel

An image capturing the essence of North America's native squirrel, Abert's Squirrel

You’ll find Abert’s Squirrel in coniferous forests close to Ponderosa Pines. Unlike other North American squirrels, Abert’s Squirrel has specific habitat preferences. They rely on Ponderosa Pines for food, nesting, and protection.

Abert’s Squirrel has distinct variations compared to other North American squirrels. Throughout the year, their favorite food consists of seeds and buds. During the winter, they adapt by consuming inner bark and twigs.

Regarding reproduction and parenting behaviors, Abert’s Squirrels exhibit similar patterns to other North American squirrels. Females build twig nests on Ponderosa Pine branches for their offspring.

Abert’s Squirrel has unique characteristics. They have long tufts of hair on their ears, which may serve as a defense mechanism or aid communication.

The conservation status and threats to Abert’s Squirrel are not widely documented. Further research is needed to assess their conservation needs and any potential hazards they may face.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

 an image capturing the vibrant essence of a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel, showcasing its distinctive thirteen brown and white stripes, slender body, and alert posture, amidst a grassy prairie habitat

If you’re in the central United States or Canada, you’ll likely come across the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel. This small mammal has distinct behavioral traits, habitat preferences, reproduction patterns, diet preferences, and interactions with other species.

  • Behavioral traits: Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels are diurnal and highly active during the day. They are known for their characteristic behavior of standing on their hind legs to survey their surroundings.
  • Habitat preferences: These squirrels prefer open grasslands with sparse vegetation. They create complex burrow systems underground for nesting and protection.
  • Reproduction patterns: Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels have a short breeding season in spring. Females give birth to litters of 3-12 young after a gestation period of around 28 days.
  • Diet preferences: Their diet consists mainly of grass, seeds, leaves, and insects. They are opportunistic feeders and may also consume small birds and lizards.
  • Interactions with other species: Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels compete with other small mammals for resources and are preyed upon by birds of prey, snakes, and carnivorous mammals.

Harriss Antelope Ground Squirrel

The Harriss Antelope Ground Squirrel, found in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, is mainly found in deserts near areas with heavy vegetation. This species plays a crucial role in the ecology of its habitat.

Harriss Antelope Ground Squirrels exhibit interesting behavior patterns, including territoriality and aggressive defense of their burrows.

Their life cycle begins with mating in the spring, followed by a gestation period of approximately 30 days. The female gives birth to a litter of 4-10 young, which are weaned and become independent after about 6 weeks.

In terms of diet, these squirrels consume a variety of cactus plants, insects, and seeds.

However, their conservation status is a cause for concern due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Efforts are being made to protect their habitats and ensure their survival in the desert ecosystems.

Fox Squirrel

An image showcasing the magnificent Fox Squirrel, a native of North America

Fox Squirrels, the largest tree squirrel in the United States, can be found in parts of Canada, Mexico, and the eastern half.

  • Fox squirrels have different habitat preferences compared to other North American squirrels. They prefer forested areas and are commonly found in oak-hickory and pine forests.
  • Regarding mating behaviors, fox squirrels are polygynandrous, meaning both males and females mate with multiple partners. They have a promiscuous mating system.
  • Fox squirrels have a social structure that is loosely organized. They are not territorial, and individuals may share overlapping home ranges.
  • Urbanization has significantly impacted the population and behavior of fox squirrels. They have adapted to urban environments and can be found in parks and suburban neighborhoods.
  • Fox squirrels play a crucial role in seed dispersal and forest regeneration. They bury nuts and seeds, helping to distribute them and promote plant growth.

Overall, fox squirrels’ diet and foraging strategies are similar to other North American squirrels. They feed on fungi, fruit, seeds, nuts, and occasionally bird eggs.

However, their interactions with predators in their ecosystem may vary depending on the specific predator species present.

Eastern Chipmunk

An image showcasing the Eastern Chipmunk, a native North American squirrel species

You can find Eastern Chipmunks in the eastern United States, and they are known for their small size and striped appearance.

Eastern Chipmunks have specific habitat preferences, with a preference for forested areas rather than grasslands. They have a varied diet, consuming both seeds and insects.

Eastern Chipmunks exhibit different reproduction strategies, building nests as opposed to burrowing. Regarding communication methods, Eastern Chipmunks use vocalization and scent marking to communicate with each other and mark their territories.

They face threats from predators, such as snakes and birds of prey, as well as human impact, including habitat destruction and fragmentation. Conservation efforts to protect Eastern Chipmunks include preserving their forested habitats and raising awareness about their ecological importance.

 Eastern Chipmunk
DietSeeds, insects
ReproductionNest building
CommunicationVocalization, scent marking
ThreatsPredators, human impact

Western Gray Squirrel

The Western Gray Squirrel, scientifically known as Sciurus griseus, is native to the western United States. These squirrels are known for their gray fur and bushy tails.

Here are some key points about the Western Gray Squirrel:

  • Habitat and behavior of Western Gray Squirrels:
  • They inhabit coniferous forests and oak woodlands.
  • They are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees.
  • They build nests called dreys using twigs and leaves.
  • Conservation efforts for Western Gray Squirrels:
  • Due to habitat loss and competition with invasive species, their populations have declined.
  • Conservation organizations are working to protect their habitat and reintroduce them to suitable areas.
  • Comparison of Western Gray Squirrels to other squirrel species:
  • They are larger than Douglas Squirrels but smaller than Fox Squirrels.
  • Their fur color varies from gray to reddish-brown.
  • The role of Western Gray Squirrels in their ecosystem:
  • They disperse seeds and contribute to forest regeneration.
  • They serve as prey for predators such as owls and hawks.
  • Interesting facts about Western Gray Squirrels:
  • They have long, curved claws that help them climb trees.
  • They are known for their ability to leap between trees.
  • Their diet consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi.

Northern Flying Squirrel

An image capturing the enchanting presence of a Northern Flying Squirrel, showcasing its distinctive large eyes, velvety gray fur, and outstretched gliding membrane as it gracefully soars through a dense forest canopy

If you ever encounter a Northern Flying Squirrel, you might be amazed by its ability to glide through the air using a flap of skin between its legs. This adaptation allows them to travel long distances and easily navigate the forest canopy.

Northern Flying Squirrels are primarily nocturnal, spending their days resting in tree cavities or nests made of leaves, twigs, and bark. They have various habitat preferences, including coniferous and mixed forests across North America.

Regarding reproduction and parenting, Northern Flying Squirrels typically have one or two litters per year, with an average of 2-4 young per litter. They are omnivorous, feeding on various food sources such as nuts, seeds, berries, fungi, and insects.

To protect themselves from predators, Northern Flying Squirrels have developed a keen sense of hearing and can detect threats from a distance. They can also blend in with their surroundings due to their grayish-brown fur, providing camouflage.

Southern Flying Squirrel

An image showcasing the Southern Flying Squirrel, an exquisite nocturnal creature native to North America

When encountering a Southern Flying Squirrel, you’ll notice its small size and ability to glide through the air using a flap of skin between its legs. This unique gliding adaptation allows them to travel between trees effortlessly, evoking a sense of gracefulness and agility.

As nocturnal creatures, southern flying squirrels exhibit fascinating behaviors during the night, such as foraging for food and communicating through various vocalizations.

Regarding habitat requirements, these squirrels prefer mature forests with abundant trees for gliding and nesting. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects, showcasing their adaptability to various food sources.

Regarding reproduction and life cycle, southern flying squirrels have a breeding season in late winter or early spring, with females giving birth to litters of 2-7 young. The young are born hairless and blind but quickly develop and become independent within a few months.

Overall, the southern flying squirrel is an intriguing creature well-adapted to its nocturnal lifestyle and forested habitats.

Arizona Gray Squirrel

You’ll find the Arizona Gray Squirrel in the southwestern United States, where it has a gray coat with a white belly.

These squirrels have specific habitat preferences, primarily favoring pine-oak woodlands and canyons. They are known to build nests in tree cavities and use their excellent climbing skills to navigate through the forest canopy.

Regarding reproduction and parenting behaviors, Arizona Gray Squirrels typically mate in early spring, and females give birth to one or two litters yearly.

They are diligent parents, providing care and protection to their offspring. Predators and threats to these squirrels include hawks, snakes, and domestic cats.

In terms of foraging and feeding habits, they primarily consume seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. Arizona Gray Squirrels play a crucial role in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and contributing to the biodiversity of their habitat.


In conclusion, North America is home to diverse native squirrel species. Each species exhibits unique characteristics and adaptations, from the Arctic Ground Squirrel in the far north to the American Red Squirrel and California Ground Squirrel in the western regions.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel and Douglas Squirrel are prominent species in the eastern parts. The Western Gray Squirrel, Northern Flying Squirrel, Southern Flying Squirrel, and Arizona Gray Squirrel are also notable members of this diverse group.

These squirrels play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, contributing to the food chain and interacting with other animals.

While some squirrels are considered pests in certain areas, their overall ecological significance cannot be denied. Understanding and appreciating these native squirrels is crucial for conserving and preserving North America’s natural heritage.

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