Saturday, December 25, 2010

eastern gray squirrel ~ 12/25/10 ~ Golden Gate Park

eastern gray squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis

New followers of Nature ID may think I have a fondness for squirrels considering my several squirrel posts in the past few months; I don't particularly like these rodents. However, I think I've finally figured out how to distinguish between the different species of squirrels in California.

What caught my attention with the ones shown above were the shockingly white bellies. Close to home, Fatty, a California ground squirrel, and the eastern fox squirrel have definite buff colored bellies. I wasn't too surprised to find out while searching for an ID, that the eastern gray squirrel was introduced to San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties... it's no wonder I don't see them around home in Monterey County.

I was amazed at how tame this family of eastern grays were near the boathouse along the Stow Lake trail in Golden Gate Park. As I was attempting to take pictures in the dark lighting and rain, several people came by to feed these squirrels nuts and such. It looked like it was a regular routine of theirs, complete with ready sandwich baggies filled with squirrel food. One older couple complained to me that she was once bitten by a squirrel, so that they now toss their nuts out on the ground to avoid direct contact. I quietly chuckled as they walked away bickering like long-married couples so often do.

ps 08/28/11 - I should have mentioned there's also a native western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) that also has a white belly. From what I've gathered they tend to be grayer, larger, and shy compared to the easterns. The Nature of a Man blogger twice mentions how the eastern gray is taking over the western gray in CA.

pss 10/18/12 - Ken also has nice side-by-side pictures of the silvery western versus the browner eastern grays.


texwisgirl said...

They are beautiful! Great, close pictures of these little hand-fed furry beasties!

Joe said...

I've always likes squirrels.

Nature ID (Katie) said...

I have to say the eastern grays are a bit cuter than our native squirrels. Thanks, twg and Joe!

John W. Wall said...

I thought all those guys were Eastern Fox Squirrels and never realized there are some E. Gray Squirrels in there too. Not sure how to tell them apart!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

John, like I mentioned above, the eastern fox have buff colored bellies. I think I would tend to get western gray and eastern gray mixed up with their white bellies, and both are found in your area. In fact, Golden Gate Park is where the eastern gray was originally introduced into CA. I've added a postscript to this post, so thanks for bringing up the subject.