Oh hum for some, but for others, a look into squirrels and how they live.... translating to how to better hunt them.
Would also be a great thread and link for the beginning hunter.
///// all PA critteres are listed and have the same sort of infor at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal...=596812&mode=2
Most Pennsylvanians are familiar with the gray squirrel,
which lives both in towns and rural areas. The gray is
our state’s most common
squirrel; the fox, red
and flying squirrels are
three other species native
to our state.
Squirrels are fast and
agile, scaling trees and
jumping from treetop
to treetop with great
speed. When jumping, they
use their large tails to help
<span style="font-weight: bold">Squirrels see only in
shades of black and white,
but their eyes are
sharp and detect</span>movement well.
<span style="font-weight: bold">They have keen
senses of hearing
and smell.</span> They are
most active in early
mornings and late afternoons, except
the nocturnal flying squirrel.
Squirrels are rodents, and the four species do not interbreed. Born blind and hairless, young
are dependent upon their mother for up to two months.
<span style="font-weight: bold">Biology</span>
Gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) — Adult gray
squirrels weigh 1 to 1½ pounds and are 18 to 20 inches
in length; about half this length is a broad, bushy tail.
Most grays are colored silvery-gray above and off-white
below, often with rusty or brownish markings on the sides
or tail. Albinism is rare, but melanism (black coloration)
is fairly common. Once, black-phase gray squirrels were
found throughout Pennsylvania; today they occur most
often in the northcentral counties. “Black squirrels” may
be any shade from dark gray to nearly jet black, often
with a brownish tinge.
<span style="font-weight: bold">Gray squirrels eat mast — acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts
and beechnuts. Other foods include berries, mushrooms,
pine seeds and corn (only the germ at the base of
the kernel is eaten), and dogwood, wild cherry and black
In early spring, squirrels eat buds, a high-energy food.
They eat the buds and flowers of red and sugar maples in
April, and later may feed on the winged fruits of red
maple. These foods have a high moisture content that
supplies squirrels’ water needs, although grays will drink
from available ground water sources.
Grays smell out nuts they have previously buried for winter food.
Unrecovered nuts may sprout and grow into trees. In this way,
squirrels help ensure continual forest growth.
Grays are probably the wariest of Pennsylvania’s squirrels.
They’re quicker than fox squirrels and less vocal
than reds, although they sound warning barks and assorted
“chucks.” Hawks, owls, foxes and tree-climbing snakes
occasionally kill young squirrels, but adults are not easily
taken. <span style="font-weight: bold">Predators do not appreciably affect squirrel
populations on good ranges — availability of food is the
key to population size.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold">A maximum life span for a wild gray squirrel could be
10 years or even longer, but few live more than two or
Grays live in nests and dens. They build leaf
nests in trees near good food supplies in both summer
and fall. The leaf nests are cooler than tree dens, they’re
about 12 by 16 inches and are built of twigs, leaves, grass,
bark and other plant materials.
Tree dens are often in
cavities where limbs have broken off or in deserted woodpecker
holes, usually 40 to 60 feet off the ground. Resident
squirrels gnaw back the outer tree bark that, in time,
would otherwise seal off den holes.
Gray squirrels breed in late winter or early spring.
Following a 44-day gestation period, females bear litters
of 4 to 5 young in late February, March or early April.
The young are usually raised in tree dens and nursed by
their mother for 5 to 7 weeks. Gray squirrels often bear a
second litter in July or August, and small grays seen in
autumn are from summer litters. Grays are gregarious and
do not seem to demonstrate territoriality. Three or four
individuals may feed side by side where food is plentiful
<span style="font-weight: bold">Habitat</span>
Woodland areas can be managed to favor squirrels.
Of the two main forest types found in Pennsylvania
— oak-hickory in the south and beech-birchmaple
in the north — the oak-hickory forest is better squirrel
habitat, mainly because it has a greater variety of vegetation
Gray squirrels prefer a deciduous forest with a variety
of tree species that provide a diverse food supply. A forest
of mixed maples, oaks, hickories and beech, for instance,
would support more grays than would a ridge-top
stand of chestnut oaks. The fox squirrel needs woodland
edge — places where the trees border corn or other crop
A good squirrel woods should contain many mature
mast-producing trees, a mixture of other tree and shrub
species to provide seasonal food variety, natural den trees
and hollow tree cavities for escape purposes. Diverse tree
and shrub species ensure adequate food supplies even
though weather, tree characteristics or tree vigor may
cause food crop failure of some types of vegetation.
Red, black and scarlet oaks regularly produce mast,
while white and chestnut oaks are less reliable. Although
white oak makes better sawtimber, landowners favor the
red oak group if they wish to support a large, stable squirrel
population. In selective logging operations, four to
six hickories should be left per acre (if they are available),
as they are heavy mast producers.
Old, hollow trees with many openings are rarely used
for dens, although they provide temporary shelter from
predators and hunters. A good den site is usually a tree
nearing maturity with one or two openings into a cavity.
Entrance holes are round and seldom over three inches in
If you want to manage a timber tract for squirrels,
keep at least four or five active den trees on each
acre. In forests where trees have reached a mast-producing
stage but are not mature enough to serve as good den
sites, artificial nesting boxes may be used.