Picture a squirrel. If you’re from the Northeast United States, you probably imagined a grey woodland creature with a big fluffy tail.
This squirrel, appropriately named the grey squirrel, is the most common of squirrels in the U.S.
However, there is another type of squirrel in our area that can also wreak havoc on your home and yard: the flying squirrel.
Yes, that’s right, there are flying squirrels across the Northeast including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Chances are you have not seen a flying squirrel in the wild because they are nocturnal animals. Besides the time of day in which they sleep, there are several differences between grey and flying squirrels.
Grey squirrels can be double the size of flying squirrels. Grey squirrels average 15 to 20 inches in length and weigh around 1.25 pounds (20 ounces) while flying squirrels are only about 8 to 12 inches and weigh approximately .125 pounds (2 ounces). This makes making them grey squirrels the smallest of the squirrels found in the Northeast United States area.
Squirrel Color & Shape
Grey squirrels are usually dark to pale grey with a white or greyish belly and have a bushy “banner tail.” Flying squirrels can range from grey-brown to reddish brown in color with a white or grey belly.
Flying squirrels also have large, dark eyes made for seeing in the dark, a flattened tail and a parachute-like membrane called a patagium that stretches the length of their bodies and allows them to glide from tree to tree. The patagium is one of the most noticeable characteristics that separate the two types of squirrel, aside from the size difference and eyes.
While both squirrels will consume nuts like acorns, fruit, buds, insects, plants in your garden, and even bird eggs from time to time, a large part of the flying squirrel’s diet includes lichens and fungi.
Grey squirrels are more opportunistic feeders and will resort to eating anything they can get their hands on.
Squirrel Mating Season
Grey squirrels will mate during December and- January, then again in May and- June.
Flying squirrels will mate during late winter into early spring. They will also usually mate again between June and August.
Both types of squirrels will stay with their mothers as babies for several months after being born.
All squirrels have chisel-like front teeth, sharp claws, and strong legs. Continuously growing incisors are perfect for crunching on nuts and wood, but they must be kept short by continuous gnawing, which is bad news for your house.
When it comes to damage, the biggest difference between these two types of squirrels is when they do it. Catseye Pest Control wildlife expert Tim Larkin says, "When people call and say they are hearing noises during the day, that's gray squirrels. If they are hearing noise at twelve o'clock, one o'clock at night, even five or six o'clock in the morning, that's flying squirrels."
Gray squirrels do most of their damage during the day because they are diurnal, while nocturnal flying squirrels like to wait until you’re trying to sleep. Both can potentially start fires from chewing through wires or blocking vents with their nests, as well as cause structural damage.
Squirrels, especially grey squirrels, can be social creatures and have grown comfortable living among people. While they might look cuddly, it is best not to touch wild animals or their feces. Squirrels can carry mange, cat scratch fever, and typhus.
If you're worried squirrels have become uninvited housemates, look for claw marks on siding, tunnels in insulation, holes where there shouldn’t be, nests made up of leaves and twigs, and feces. You might even be able to hear the critters scampering, chewing, or scratching as they move around and chase each other.
If you do find any signs of unwanted guests, seal openings that may serve as points of entry for these rodents like chimneys, foundation gaps, or holes in siding. Trim tree branches that fall close to your home, protect gardens with fences and get squirrel proof bird feeders.
Too much for you to do on your own? Contact Catseye today. Our pest management professionals have the education, equipment, and skills necessary to effectively address a squirrel problem.
Locating and treating squirrels can be difficult. Pest management professionals provide their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the squirrel infestation.