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Mammals of Southern Africa

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A Guide to the: Grey Squirrel - Sciurus carolinensis

Grey Squirrels have a marked difference between their summer and winter pelages: in winter they have white tufts at the ear tips, a bushier tail and a dense, silvery coat, and look like the typical 'story-time' squirrel: in summer the ear tufts disappear, the coat and tail thin out, and they begin to look almost rat-like. Although the grey squirrel lives chiefly on acorns, pine kernels and other seeds, it will take to more perishable items such as vegetables and deciduous fruits, garden plants and grain crops. The species is actually a native of north America: it was first introduced to the south of England in 1876, where it is ousting the attractive native British red squirrel; it was introduced to the western Cape at about the same time, and within 20 years grey squirrels had overrun the Peninsula. It is most active in the early morning and late afternoon, resting in the heat of the day. A squirrel's shelter is called a 'drey' - it is sometimes a tree-hole, although more usually a nest of twigs and leaves built high above the ground in the branches of an oak, pine, bluegum, or other tree. They are usually solitary, except when a female is accompanied by her weaning young.

More facts about Grey Squirrels

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