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Is it a Tree Squirrel or a Ground Squirrel?


Question: 
How do you tell a Tree Squirrel & Ground Squirrel apart?


Typical Answer:
Duh! If the squirrel is in a tree, it's a Tree Squirrel. If the squirrel is on the ground, it is a Ground Squirrel.

Too bad it's not that simple!

See those 3 squirrels in the above photos? Notice, that they are all on the ground. You guessed it - they are all actually Tree Squirrels! Just to make things more interesting, Ground Squirrels often climb trees for food or to get a better view. 

How to Tell if it's a Ground Squirrel or Tree Squirrel

1.  Be Scary! The easiest ways to tell if it's a Tree Squirrel or a    Ground Squirrel, is to scare them. Say boo - or however you prefer to be scary, and then watch and see what happens. Typically, Tree Squirrels will climb up a nearby tree and Ground Squirrels will scurry off into a hole.

Squirrels are so tricky and well, squirrelly, so you may need another way to tell them apart.

2.  Look for Markings. Squirrels look similar, but if you look closely, you'll notice that Ground Squirrels may have markings like white rings around their eyes or stripes down their backs. Tree Squirrels often have lighter-colored undersides and no markings.

3.  Check out the Tail. Tree Squirrels have large, bushy tails and the Ground Squirrels, not so much.

4.  Size Matters. Ground Squirrels are usually 8 to 12 inches long. Tree Squirrels measure 12 to 20 inches. Unless they are in a line-up, this can be a challenging way to identify them.

California Ground Squirrel
Why do I need know the difference between Tree Squirrels and Ground Squirrels?
If you have squirrel troubles, you need to know which critter is the causing the problem. In most states, Tree Squirrels are considered a game animal and your local Department of Fish & Game can help determine the action to take. Ground Squirrels are usually labeled as a pest and the Department of Pest Regulation or your local Agricultural Commissioner can guide you.

If you have questions or want to talk squirrels, call (925) 634-9204 or email me .


On November 13th, I'll be in Oxnard speaking at the PAPA Seminar. Stop by my table and say hi or if you need California DPR continuing education units, sign up for the seminar.


Lisa, the Squirrel Lady

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