You either love or hate grey squirrels. In the forests, suburbs, cities, these little rodents live around us year round. They are notorious for raiding birdfeeders and are often very comfortable with people. They are native to the Eastern United States in pretty much every location. Interestingly, they also live in Europe where they are considered an invasive species. They are also found in the Western United States where they are also considered an invasive species as they compete with the native Red Squirrel.
Eastern Grey Squirrels are a mid-sized rodent, larger than a Red Squirrel and smaller than a Fox Squirrel. They are often grey but can tend toward reddish brown. They have a white belly, very different than the cream colored belly of the larger Fox Squirrel. Grey squirrels can also be completely black. This coloration difference is often localized. Studies have found that this color actually helps them stay warmer in the winter and increases their survival rate.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a hoarder. They will collect food (acorns, seeds, nuts) and hide them around their range. They bury stored food in the ground or tuck it into tree crevices to eat later, often in the winter. They can be responsible for planting new oaks when they forget where they've stored them over winter.
Eastern Grey Squirrels are responsible for the huge mess of sticks and leaves in trees. They line these nests, called dreys, with moss and soft materials to keep the nests warm. They often create permanent homes in tree hollows as well. They typically raise one litter of young per year.
Eastern Grey Squirrels are friendly and curious mammals in our environment. A squirrel baffle or squirrel proof feeder will deter them from bird feeders. They can often be coaxed to eat from your hand but it is not recommended as they will also not hesitate to bite should they feel threatened.