30 inches in length; weighs up to 3 pounds
Quiet wooded areas, especially mature loblolly pine and hardwood forests; also found in woodlots near farm fields and groves of trees near water
Found only in small isolated populations on the Delmarva Peninsula, mostly in Kent, Dorchester, Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties in Maryland. Biologists have moved some squirrels to other parts of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to help develop populations there. Historic range extended as far north as southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.
Nuts, seeds, buds, flowers, fruit, fungi, insects
The Delmarva fox squirrel has a steel or whitish gray body and a white belly. It has short, thick, rounded ears. Its full, fluffy tail has black edgings and can grow to 15 inches long. The fox squirrel can grow to 30 inches in length and weigh up to three pounds.
The Delmarva fox squirrel feeds on nuts, seeds and acorns from gum, oak, pine, maple, walnut and hickory trees. It will also eat buds, flowers, fruit, fungi, insects and mature green pine cones.
Humans are major predators that have caused habitat loss through development and logging. Red foxes, minks, weasels, raptors, and unleashed dogs and cats are natural predators. Raccoons, opossums and rat snakes may prey on young squirrels.
Delmarva fox squirrels will make a series of barks or chatters, similar to those of an eastern grey squirrel, when alarmed. They also make loud chewing sounds when feeding and a series of whines or screams during courtship.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Mating occurs in late winter and early spring. The squirrel usually makes a den in a tree hollow but will also nest on a tree crotch, in tangles of vines on tree trunks or at the end of large tree branches. About 44 days later (usually in February to April) the female gives birth to a litter of one to six young. The female cares for her young until they are weaned. Young reach sexual maturity after one year. Delmarva fox squirrels can live to six years old.
Did You Know?
- The Delmarva fox squirrel is one of 10 recognized subspecies of fox squirrels, which are the largest tree squirrels in the western hemisphere.
- In 1967, these squirrels were listed as an endangered species because of habitat loss due to development and timber harvesting. However, after a rigorous recovery plan and range expansion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service de-listed the squirrels in November 2015.
- They can easily be distinguished from the common gray squirrel by their larger size, lighter color and shy, quiet behavior.
- Rather than jumping from tree to tree, Delmarva fox squirrels will descend down a tree and travel on the ground to the next tree.