Delmarva Fox Squirrel

Sciurus niger cinereus

1. Food Chain and Habitat

  • eats nuts, seeds, mature green pine cones, buds, fruit, fungi, insects, and grains (USFWS)
  • find their food in crop fields and plants/trees (Wiki)
  • mostly herbivores, but occasionally eats insects (omnivore)(Wiki)
  • historical range included the Delmarva Peninsula (where they got their name), southeastern Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey (Wiki, USFWS, ESR)
  • present day range is limited to parts of the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia (Wiki, USFWS)
  • make their dens in the hollows of trees, make nests of leaves and twigs, and live in tree cavities and dead snags (USFWS, SNC, ESR)
  • live in cold and inclement weather (Wiki)
  • live in mature forests (hardwood and pine tree) (Wiki)

Delmarva fox squirrel eating corn from a crop field

Delmarva fox squirrel eating bark off of tree

2. Description

  • mammal (Wiki)
  • body covering: fur (Wiki, USFWS)
  • silver to gray coloring(DFSRP, Wiki, ESR)
  • white belly and feet (DFSRP, ESR)
  • can weigh up to three pounds(Wiki, ESR)
  • can grow to thirty inches long with half of that as the tail (DFSRP)
  • rounded ears (DFSRP)
  • largest of all the tree squirrels (Wiki)
  • use scent markings to communicate with other fox squirrels (Wiki)
  • make clucking sound (Wiki, ESR)
Life Span
  • Mating occurs in late winter and early spring (USFWS, Wiki)
  • Litters average 1-6 young (USFWS, Wiki)
  • mother raises them herself (USFWS, Wiki)
  • gestation is about 44 days (USFWS, Wiki)
  • sexually mature at 10 to 11 months of age
  • usually produce their first litter when they are a year old (Wiki)
  • the young are blind, without fur and helpless at birth (Wiki)
  • in captivity, they are known to live 18 years (Wiki)
  • in the wild, they usually die before they become adults (Wiki)
  • they live up around 12.6 years for females and 8.6 years for males (Wiki)

Delmarva fox squirrel with white belly and feet, half of its length is its tail

a Delmarva fox squirrel on a broken branch

3. Adaptation

  • when threatening another fox squirrel , they stand upright with their tail over their back and flick it (Wiki)
  • they camouflage into the trees (Wiki)
  • sharp claws (Wiki)
  • strong hind legs for jumping (ESR)
  • well-developed senses of hearing and smell (Wiki)
  • impressive jumpers (Wiki, ESR)
  • slow moving(DFSRP, USFWS)
  • quieter than grey squirrels (Wiki)
  • ambles along the forest floor more than in trees (DFSRP, Wiki)
  • make high-pitched whines during mating(DFSRP, Wiki)
  • paws can grab small nuts and fruit easily (USFWS)
  • excellent vision (Wiki)

a Delmarva fox squirrel on alert

Delmarva fox squirrel on the left and eastern gray squirrel on the right

4. Reasons For Endagerment

  • predators: red foxes, gray foxes, weasels, minks, eagles, raptors, racoons, opossums, rat snakes, unleashed dogs, and cats (Wiki, USFWS, DFSRP)
  • automobiles may crush them (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • hunters shoot the mistaking them for gray squirrels (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • loss and fragmentation of their habitat due to timber harvesting and converting forested land into farms(USFWS, Wiki, DFSRP)
  • housing developments(USFWS, DFSRP)
  • roads and commercial property (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • sea level rising (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • mange mites (persistent contagious skin diseases caused by parasitic mites) (Wiki)
  • severe winter weathers (Wiki)

a red fox, one of Delmarva fox squirrel's predators

5. Critical Information

  • in 1967 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as an endangered species (Wiki)
  • seven sites were established for long term monitoring (USFWS, Wiki, DFSRP),)
  • biologists use GIS (geographic information system) to identify suitable habitats on landscape level and monitor land use near them (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • a two year study was conducted to determine the relationship between population status and habitat management (USFWS, DFSRP)
  • some were radio-collared for post release tracking (Wiki, DFSRP)
  • trapping and cameras are used to determine occupancy (Wiki, USFWS)
  • don't hunt for Delmarva fox squirrels (they look like gray squirrels) (USFWS- they were being hunted)
  • do timber harvest elsewhere (USFWS- people today still use that area for timber harvest)
  • don't drive automobiles where they are located (USFWS's website stated that they have been crushed by automobiles in the past)

sign that tells people that there are endangered squirrels near that area