Western Gray Squirrel

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Western Gray Squirrel
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Rodentia
Family:Sciuridae
Genus:Sciurus
Species:S. griseus
Binomial name
Sciurus griseus
Ord, 1818

The Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus) is a tree squirrel found along the western coast of the United States.

At various times and places, this species has also been known as the silver-gray squirrel, the California gray squirrel, the Oregon gray squirrel, the Columbian gray squirrel, the banner-tail, and simply as the gray squirrel. There are three geographical subspecies: Sciurus griseus griseus (central Washington to the western Sierra Nevada in central California); S. g. nigripes (from south of San Francisco Bay to San Luis Obispo County, California; and S. g. anthonyi, which ranges from San Luis Obispo to south-central California).

Compared with the Eastern Gray Squirrel S. carolinensis (which has been introduced into its range), it is a shy animal. Weights vary from about 400g to nearly 1Kg, and length (including tail) from 45 to 60cm. The fur is silver grey, with white on the underside; there may be black flecks in the tail. Ears are large but without tufts. The tail is long and typically very bushy.

Western Gray Squirrels are forest dwellers, and can be found at elevations up to at least 2000m. They are strictly diurnal, and feed mainly on seeds and nuts, particularly pine seeds and acorns, though they will also take berries, fungus and other soft food. They feed both in trees and on the ground. They are scatter-hoarders making numerous caches of food when it is abundant, and thus contribute to the seed dispersion of their food trees. They do not hibernate, but become less active during the winter.

Although the species is not endangered, concern has been expressed about local populations of particular subspecies.

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