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eastern fox squirrel

eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)

Features and Behaviors

The eastern fox squirrel’s head-body length is 10 to 15 inches. It has rust-yellow body fur with light-yellow belly fur. The tail is very long and bushy.

The eastern fox squirrel may be found statewide in Illinois. This mammal lives in forest edges, woodlots, fencerows and oak tree clusters. The eastern fox squirrel is also an inhabitant of cities. It is not commonly found in any area with gray squirrels. The eastern fox squirrel consumes fruits, tree buds, hickory nuts, acorns, walnuts, Osage orange fruits, corn, flowers, leaves, fungi and insects. The type of food eaten depends on the season and availability. It will store foods if any are available in ample supply. This mammal is active early in the morning and late in the evening, in trees and on the ground. This squirrel is known to swim. It does not hibernate but may sleep for several consecutive days in winter. It may build a leaf nest or use a tree cavity or manmade nest box for shelter and raising young. The eastern fox squirrel makes a series of sounds, but the “bark” is the most commonly used. There are two mating seasons, one in early winter and one in late spring. Females two years old and older produce two litters per year. Females about one year old usually breed once in a year. Two to four young are born after a gestation period of about six weeks. Young nurse for about two months.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

Illinois Status: common, native