Goose Creek Lake Wildlife - Squirrels

Updated: 10/15/2019


The eastern gray and eastern fox squirrels are the most common members of the squirrel family living in Missouri. Their names aptly describe their general coat color; the first is usually gray, the other is usually reddish yellow. Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis): slender, smaller than the fox squirrel; fringe of tail and belly are white; back and sides of body are gray (rarely reddish or all black); total length (tip of nose to tip of tail) to 21 inches. Sometimes black individuals occur in the same litter with gray ones; these may be entirely glossy black or show various gradations between black and gray. Albino individuals occur occasionally; in some instances where this characteristic is common in the heredity of a local population, small colonies of albinos may be formed.

Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger): heavy-bodied, larger than the gray squirrel; fringe of tail and billy are reddish yellow; back and sides of body are reddish yellow mixed with gray (body rarely all black); total length (tip of nose to tip of tail) to 29 inches. In Missouri, black or albino individuals occur rarely.

Similar species: Other members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) that live in Missouri are the eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin's ground squirrel, and southern flying squirrel. None of these are likely to be confused with the two tree squirrels described here.

Size: Total length: 14–21 inches (gray), 19–29 inches (fox); weight: ¾–1½ pounds (gray), 1–3 pounds (fox).