Squirrels of Ohio
It is said that at one time a squirrel could travel across the state of Ohio from tree to tree without touching the ground. Although this feet might not be possible now, we still have an abundance of squirrels in Ohio. Most of our squirrels are grey squirrel species.
In Cleveland, Ohio and other notable areas, like Kent, Orange, and Wooster, Ohio there is a large presence of black squirrels. Black squirrels are a variety of the grey squirrel.
There is a story of an employee at Kent State University gathering black squirrels from Canada and releasing them on campus. Because of this reintroduction, black squirrels have repopulated parts of northeast Ohio. The entire population of black squirrels is not due to this Kent State University experiment.
The truth is that before Europeans settled in America, black squirrels were the majority. Their black pigmentation, which is a mutated gene, helped them camouflage themselves into the deep, old growth forests that once existed in America. Nowadays this habitat is pretty non-existant. Black squirrels dominate in the northern regions, where their black fur hold in more heat that the lighter grey varieties of squirrel.
The native grey squirrel is the most dominant species in America. It is prolific and adaptable. The species has even spread to Europe where they are considered an invasive species. Grey squirrels make nests in tree crotches with dry leaves and twigs. They also nest inside attics and wall voids. Grey squirrels are most active early in the morning and at twilight. They are less active during the heat of the day.
Grey squirrels have a lot of interesting qualities about them. They are one of the only mammals capable of descending down trees face first. They store their food in multiple small caches. In one year, one grey squirrel can hide food in over 1000 locations. Obviously, grey squirrels have excellent memory.
Grey squirrels can even be deceptive. If they feel like they are being watched, they will go through the process of making a cache, but they seal it up with the food still in their mouth. Not many people see animals as living, thinking organisms. Grey squirrels prove that animals think.
Red squirrels mainly feed on seeds of conifers. They do not bury their food in caches but store conifer seeds in piles in hollow wood. Storage piles can be up to 30 feet wide and 1.5 feet high!
Flying squirrels are nocturnal. Unlike other squirrels, they are omnivores, they hunt insects and even other rodents. They have been known to fall down chimneys if not properly screened.
Fox squirrels are Ohio’s largest squirrel. They are not native to the region but moved into the territory when deforestation became prominent. They do not like thick wooded lots. Fox squirrels spend more time on the ground than any of our other squirrels. They are found primarily in western Ohio where small agricultural lots break up forested land. They are found in older suburbs with tall shade trees and little undergrowth.