The squirrel family (Sciuridae
) includes chipmunks, squirrels, and flying squirrels.
The Southern Flying Squirrel
, Glaucomys volans
, is found in wooded areas statewide except the Keys. It is buff brown to gray with a white underside, large eyes, and a broad, flat 3.5-5" tail. It is 8-10" long. It has a loose fold of skin along each side from wrist to ankle. When it extends its feet, this fold creates a wing-like surface so that the squirrel can glide from tree to tree. The average glide is 30-50 feet.
It nests in tree cavities and nest boxes, including purple martin houses. Nest boxes should be placed 8-10 feet above the ground on tree trunks. It is nocturnal and forages mainly in trees for acorns
, hickory nuts
, pecans, insects, bird eggs and nestlings, berries (blackberries
), fruit, seeds, and buds. It caches nuts and seeds.
It breeds in January or February and again in August or September. After a 40 day gestation, a litter of 1-6 young is born.
The Mexican Red-bellied Squirrel
, Sciurus aureogaster
, is found in wooded areas on Elliot Key in Dade County where it was introduced from Mexico in 1938. It is gray frosted with white or all black. Its underside and sides up to its shoulders are mahogany red. It is 16.5-22" long with an 8-12", large, bushy tail.
It is active primarily in the morning and spends most of its time in the treetops. It is shy. Breeding occurs year-round. Diet includes sea grape
, wild mastic
, papaya, gumbo limbo
, and coconut, thatch and sargent's palms
. When fruit isn't available, it browses on mahogany, sea grape
, and gumbo limbo
The Eastern Gray Squirrel
, Sciurus carolinensis
, is found in wooded, suburban, and urban areas statewide. It is usually light to dark grayish brown with a white or buff underside but may also be all white or blonde with a white underside. It has small, rounded ears. Its long (7.5-9") tail is flattened and bushy. The tips of the hairs on the tail are white or gray. It is 16-20" long.
It nests in tree hollows or leaf nests in treetops. It forages during the day, mainly early morning and late afternoon, both on the ground and in trees, living on a diet of acorns
, nuts, fruits, berries, insects, and bird eggs. Food plants include cypress
, Rubus spp.
, and tupelo
It breeds in late winter or early spring and again in late spring or summer. The gestation period is about 45 days and litters contain 2-6 young. When the summer litter is due, the female selects a new nest site, leaving the den to the juveniles.
The eastern gray squirrel chatters when disturbed.
The Fox Squirrel
, Sciurus niger
, is found in pinelands statewide except for the Keys and perhaps Dade and Broward Counties. It is gray, gray brown, tan, dark brown, or black with an underside ranging from white to black. It has a white forehead and muzzle. It is 23-40" long including its long (11-13"), bushy tail.
It is active during the daytime, typically foraging midmorning, noon, and late afternoon. It spends most of its time on the ground. Diet includes acorns
, nuts, pine
seeds, tubers, fruit (grapes
), berries (mulberries
), insects, bird eggs, buds, and mushrooms. It frequently caches nuts and seeds.
Nests are built in hollow cavities in pine
, and cypress
trees or leaf nests are built in treetops.
It breeds in late winter or early spring. Older females breed again in summer. A litter of 1-6 is born following a 45 day gestation. The young leave the nest when 3 months old.
It chatters when disturbed.
** PROTECTED **
The Big Cypress Fox Squirrel
, Sciurus niger avicennia
, is found in wooded areas in southwestern Florida. It is buff to black (usually buff) with white toes. It is 11" long.
It nests in cypress
, cabbage palms
, and pines
. It forages on the ground and in trees, eating slash pine
seeds, cabbage palm
, and figs
It rarely chatters when disturbed.
Sherman's Fox Squirrel
, Sciurus niger shermanii
, is found in dry pine-oak woods from the midpanhandle to a line from Tampa to Lake Okeechobee. It is black, tan, or black and tan with a white nose and ears and black on top of its head. It is 24-28".
It is solitary and active during the day. It builds leaf nests in oak trees. Diet includes longleaf pine
seeds and turkey-oak
acorns. When the latter is unavailable it will eat the acorns of live oak
It breeds in November and again in May or June. The gestation period is 6-7 weeks.
Predators include bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and man.
** PROTECTED **
The Eastern Chipmunk
, Tamias striatus
, is found in deciduous woods, forest edges, and residential areas with trees in the northwest panhandle. It is reddish brown with five dark stripes alternating with 2 lighter stripes. Its sides and underside are buff to white and its feet are tan. Its tail is dark with a reddish underside. It has cheek pouches and short, rounded ears. It is 8.7-10" long with a 2.7-4" tail.
The chipmunk is a ground-dwelling squirrel, solitary, and active during the day. It lives in burrows under trees, banks, and rocks. Burrows usually have 2-3 entrances and a storage chamber for seeds (beech, pine
) and nuts (acorns
, pecans, hickory
nuts). Its diet also includes insects and occasionally frogs, salamanders, small mice and snakes, berries, and bird eggs. It also caches food in shallow ground excavations.
It breeds in early spring and summer. After a 30-day gestation, a litter of 2-7 young is born.
When disturbed it vocalizes with a trilling chip.
Predators include cats, dogs, foxes, bobcats, hawks, owls, weasels, and rat snakes.
[ Mammal Index | Protected Mammals ]