3.6.24 4

Southern Fox Squirrels

What is that squirrel-looking thing?? 

My nephew asked me this with a deadpan face not so long ago. Kids ask the darnedest questions.

That squirrel-looking thing is a squirrel. A Southern fox squirrel, to be exact. It’s the king of North Carolina tree squirrels. 

They are the largest squirrel species in our area, growing twice the size of the gray squirrel, and come in various shades, including black.

Though Southern fox squirrels are spotted in various areas around the state, they prefer mature longleaf pines and pine-oak forests. 

That’s why they are most prolific in the Sandhills and coastal plain.

Spending time with Ebie in Brunswick County growing up, I saw a lot of them. We’d go sit on the train tracks and watch the fox squirrels forage at the base of the pines.

I found the one pictured above on a trip to Brunswick Town last year.

He was curious about me – but scared to get too close. Typical behavior. They’re more cautious than their smaller cousins.

You don’t catch fox squirrels chasing one another through the treetops or making death-defying leaps. Their wary way of life helps protect them from predators.

Unfortunately, that added layer of security doesn’t help them much when it comes to habitat loss.

Southern fox squirrels currently have healthy population numbers in North Carolina. But for how long? In the face of the population boom we’re seeing in the Sandhills and coastal plain, will fox squirrels continue to thrive among us?

I hope so.

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  1. When I found out about these squirrels I was working with a great guy who raised Maine Coon Cats — the tail with the cat attached. These cats are huge. They’re very affectionate and cute, since, well, I mean, they can afford to be.
    I mentioned them to him saying that God made these squirrels for Maine Coons to hunt.

    Published 3.12.24
    • Cassie wrote:

      I wouldn’t doubt it! These guys are huge! Perfect prey for a giant kitty. lol

      Published 3.12.24
  2. Nancy Roorbach wrote:

    I live in Florida and for years was on a 5 acre homestead. I noticed that as long as the resident fox squirrel was around the gray squirrels stayed away.

    Published 4.17.24
    • Cassie wrote:

      I haven’t seen any fox squirrels where we live right now. I’m not sure why. I now they live around here. We do have a ton of gray squirrels though. Perhaps they don’t make the best neighbors. lol

      Published 5.11.24