A Distant Rumbling
Designing Luck

American Squirrels

Douglas_squirrel_on_cedar_tree_bran This is a request for help finding three specific species of squirrel in the United States: the Fox Squirrel, the Western Gray Squirrel, and the Douglas Squirrel (pictured left, in a photo taken from Alan Bauer's photography website).

There are hundreds of squirrel species in the world, but the ones that I have most experience with are the Eurasian Red Squirrel (which lives in parts of the British Isles, including the Isle of Wight where I grew up) and the Eastern Grey Squirrel - the infamous rascal which has made its home in many cities throughout the US and Europe.

Rik, another sciuraphile like myself, noted that I haven't posted much about squirrels recently, and that's sadly because here in Tennessee the squirrels are treated as vermin which makes them especially wary of people and hard to interact with. But my interest in squirrels has not abated - I'm just lacking the opportunities. When I next visit my family on the Isle of Wight, I shall try and get some red squirrel photos to share, but in the meantime I'd like to call on the internet for help locating certain species.

There are three US squirrel species I've not yet seen:

  • The Fox Squirrel is similar in size to an Eastern Grey Squirrel, but has the russet red colouration of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. It's range takes in the north east seaboard (New England and so forth), west as far as California, and allegedly into Texas as well.
  • The Western Grey Squirrel is found on the western seaboard, particularly in California and Washington. They are far more shy than Eastern Greys, but beyond this I'm at a loss as to how to distinguish them from their more common relatives.
  • The Douglas Squirrel is a small red-furred pine squirrel that lives primarily in the coniferous forests on the west coast of the US. They are small, like most other Red Squirrels, perhaps even smaller, and in the winter have ear tufts.

Do you have squirrels of these species living near you? Do you have photos or video feeds you can share? Can you describe ways to distinguish Western Greys from Eastern Greys, or Douglas Squirrels from American Red Squirrels? Where can I visit where I have a virtual certainty of encountering squirrels from these three species? Let me know in the comments!


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I believe I've seen the Fox Squirrels around. I'll try keep my camera on me more often, though Wikipedia says the Fox Squirrel range excludes New England, so either it or myself are mistaken. Or I saw them when visiting my cousins in upstate New York, Syracuse-area.

Chill: thanks - interested in anything you can find! Don't trust the Trivipedia on anything important would be my advice - I find it far more useful as a means of determining the dominant arguments between internet geeks than for uncovering anything "true", not that I believe in Truth, per se, but... :)

But it *is* an excellent choice for trivia, and a good short cut for any research one is doing, though. I use it - I just don't trust it!

Case in point: despite my efforts informing them that the situation in the UK (the grey squirrel has replaced the red squirrel in most places) resulted from a parapox infection brought by the grey squirrels, not exclusively by competition with the invading species, the entry on the Wikipedia has been updated as follows:

"Although complex and controversial, the main factor in the displacement of red squirrels by grays is thought to be the grays' greater fitness and, hence, a competitive advantage over red squirrels on all measures."

Basically, they added an acknowledgement that the fitness claim was controversial... Woo. But no mention of the parapox infection, which is a matter of record.

If the fitness claim were true, why are red and grey squirrels found together in other places (such as Canada)? Not to mention that in pine forests, the red squirrel has a competitive advantage over the grey squirrel (which is not generally as good at getting seeds from cones).

The Scottish authorities have inoculated red squirrels in Scotland against the parapox infection, and the red squirrel population is (last I heard!) doing fine, so I can't see any basis for a claim that this is a direct competition for resources issue.

Honestly, the Darwinian dogma of "fitness" is used to cover a variety of crimes in science! :) But then, my reaction here places my bias firmly on the other side of the line, so I could be missing something because of my own prejudice. Isn't science fun? *So* objective... ;)

Awesome meeting you at GDC, and hope to see you again in some random future! ;)

I wouldn't do anything as controversial as talking about Wikipedia's authenticity! I merely laid out all the options between what it and I said were true and allowed you to make a decision based on that.

Here's to the random future!

The Wikipedia is an authentic synthesis of what the internet geeks collectively think. Whether this is truly "knowledge" is a wider epistemological question! ;)

Best wishes!

LOL. So much LOL in fact that I'm glad I read this when the office was relatively empty ;)
I'd better come clean here and explain that my comment regarding squirrels was actually purely in jest, however I am open to the posibility of discovering my internal sciuraphile...
"Did you mean: scrapple"


"The Scottish authorities have inoculated red squirrels in Scotland against the parapox infection, and the red squirrel population is (last I heard!) doing fine,"

I'm no sciuraphile, but I thought red squirrels had died out throughout the UK.

I live in Glasgow (not Australia) and have yet to see a red Squirrel. Conversely, I've regularly seen grey squirrels in the parks and streets.

Did you mean further north?

Rik: well in jest or not, I was glad of the excuse to unfetter my inner squirrel lover. ;)

Bezman: I assure you there are a great many red squirrels left in Scotland, but not in the cities - red squirrels can't take that environment. In fact, 75% of the UK's red squirrels (about 120,000) can be found in Scotland. To find them, you'd have to go to pine forests (their preferred biome), and even then they are incredibly shy - you won't see one very often in a walk in the woods.

Were you born in Scotland, or did you just move there? I'm curious, since I have a fair idea that your bloodline originates from somewhat further afield. ;)

Best wishes!

Born in Glasgow, from Iranian parents. Legally, I'm dual nationality.

That must give you a fairly unique perspective! Out of interest: do your parent's say they are Iranian, or do they say they are Persian? Just curious. :)

I don't make it to Scotland as often as I ought (I'm quarter Scottish) but if I'm ever in your neck of the woods it would be great to meet up.


They'd normally say "we're from Iran". Or "Farsi hasteem".

I'd certainly be happy to buy a drink before launching a fake missile at your face.

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