Tree squirrels are readily identifiable with their long and bushy tails and beady black eyes. The squirrel commonly found in New Jersey is the Eastern Gray Squirrel. This particular squirrel is a large tree squirrel. A look-alike squirrel found in New squirrel Jersey is the Southern Flying Squirrel.
Squirrels are rodents. Over 40% of mammals are rodents along with rats and mice. They are exceptionally hardy creatures because of their small size, short breeding cycle, and the ability to gnaw and eat a wide variety of foods. All rodents have incisors, long sharp front teeth that grow continuously and must be kept warn down by gnawing. Squirrels, as all rodents, use their incisors to gnaw wood, break into food, and bite predators. They use their incisors like a crowbar; it is how they crack open even the hardest nuts.
No doubts, squirrels are pretty, appealing and entertaining little animals with their acrobatic skills. But they can quickly become a nuisance when they infiltrate and set up nests in residential areas. They are capable of quickly causing damage to your home and electrical system should they gain inside access into one’s attic. With their gnawing of wires, squirrels can start electrical fires and bring parasites and diseases into your home. Ticks, mange mites, fleas, and internal parasites are common including bot fly larvae that protrude from the skin.squirrel bird feeder
Squirrels are also a problem for those with gardens as well as bird lovers. Squirrels will aggressively take food from bird feeders and destroy birds nests, eating eggs and nestlings. Urban squirrels have little fear of humans and ignore us in their daily activities.
Eastern gray squirrel
The eastern gray squirrel has predominantly gray fur but it can also have a reddish color. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail. Eastern gray squirrels measure 16 to 20 inches; its body and tail are about the same length, 8 to 10 inches. They weigh from 1 1/4 pounds to 1 3/4 pounds. Its tail is used for steering and balancing up trees and across telephone wires. The have good eyesight needed for their high-speed travel through the trees. Squirrels also have a good sense of hearing and smell. They always run down trees head first using their claws to cling to the bark.
Gray squirrels inhabit nut-bearing trees like oak, hickory, beech, and walnut. Squirrels are tree-living animals that come down to the ground to search for food. But their main home is in the trees where they are safe from most enemies. The trees also provide most of the squirrel’s food including nuts, seeds, buds, and shoots. A common sign of squirrels are leftovers scattered under trees and pinecones that are stripped of its seeds and scales. The grey squirrel builds itself a hollow nest, also called a drey, which is made up of twigs and shredded bark and lined with moss or grass and dead leaves.
In New Jersey, white squirrels are a white version of the eastern grey squirrel resulting from a genetic mutation that causes the white coats. This is a very unusual mutation. Usually, a coat is white because of albinism in which the gene that codes for pigmentation is mutated. The other genetic aberration is a white morph caused by a different gene. You can distinguish an albino white from a white morph by the eyes. Since albinos lack pigment in the eyes as well as the skin, their eyes are dark red. We don't see many white squirrels because in the process of natural selection the deck is stacked against them. It's hard to hide from predators and blend in with the colors of nature when your coat is shiny white.
Gray squirrels will eat a great variety of foods and adapt quickly to unusual food sources. Typically, they feed mostly on nuts in fall and early winter. Acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and orange fruits are favorite fall foods. Nuts are often stored for later use. One of the ways they store food for the winter is to bury nuts. Since they don’t find every nut they bury, squirrels plant trees. Tree squirrels are very active in the early morning and late afternoon. In the winter, they come out in the middle of the day to look for food. They cannot live for more than a few days squirrel5without food so they do not hibernate.
In late winter and early spring they prefer tree buds. In summer they eat fruits, berries, and various plant materials. During population peaks, when food is scarce, these squirrels may chew bark from a variety of trees and eat soil for its minerals and roughage. Squirrels rarely drink and get most of their water from food and dew. They will also eat insects and other animal matter. In urban and suburban areas, they readily eat from garbage cans and bird feeders.
Gray squirrels breed when they are 1 year old. They breed twice a year, in early spring and in mid-summer. Young squirrels may breed only once in their first year. The gestation period is less than two months. Baby squirrels are only 4 inches long, including their tails, and cannot see or hear. They are completely dependent on the female for their survival. They nest in tree cavities, human-made squirrel boxes, or in squirrel nests. Squirrel nests, also known as dreys, are constructed with a frame of twigs and filled with dry leaves and lined with leaves, strips of bark and other materials.
Squirrels may occasionally damage forest trees by chewing bark from branches and trunks. In residential areas, squirrels sometimes travel power lines and short out transformers. They gnaw on wires, enter buildings, and build nests in attics. They frequently chew holes through pipelines used in maple syrup production.
Squirrels occasionally damage lawns by burying or searching for and digging up nuts. They will chew bark and clip twigs on ornamental trees or shrubbery planted in yards. Often squirrels take food at feeders intended for birds. Sometimes they chew to enlarge openings of birdhouses and then enter to eat nestling songbirds. In gardens, squirrels may eat planted seeds, mature fruits, or grains.
Squirrels can cause significant damage to trees. Young squirrel on roof saplings are destroyed and squirrels gnaw through the bark of hardwood trees such as beech and sycamore to get at the nutritious sapwood below. The raw scar left on the trunk encourages fungal attack. If they peel off a whole ring of bark, the tree may die.
Grey squirrels also affect bird populations. Squirrels eat eggs and baby birds from the open nests of birds such as thrushes and inches and discourage birds from using nest boxes. Squirrels also use ideal nesting spots that would be occupied by birds. Perhaps most significantly, squirrels and birds eat the same food. Squirrels have been identified taking a store of winter foods from birds and their diet means that they are in direct competition with many birds for limited food during the winter. All too often, the birds lose.
Like all nuisance wildlife, the first line of defense is exclusion, taking affirmative measures to prevent and discourage access to your home. You would use the same squirrel removal methods that you would use for excluding raccoons and other nuisance wildlife. A wildlife removal technician can examine your home for potential points of entry. These animals are sly and have a knack for finding the weakest link to gain entry into your home. Some initial steps are to close external openings to buildings to stop damage to building interiors, remove selected trees or their branches to prevent access to structures, and install a chimney cap. Squirrels can easily gain roof access through overhanging tree branches which should be trimmed away from the home. Plastic tubes on telephone wires and other cables may prevent access to your roof.
If squirrels are inside your attic, they either have to be trapped or place a one-way door over openings to allow squirrels to leave and prevent them from returning. A mother squirrel should not be excluded without also removing her babies. A professional squirrel control operator can remove these animals safely and humanely. Nuisance wildlife inside one’s home is an emergency. There is risk of disease and injury to your family and extensive damage to your property from gnawing and waste deposits.
If you have a wildlife control problem, contact Cowleys Pest Services today. They are the experienced professionals to help you deal with your wildlife removal needs throughout Mercer, Ocean, Monmouth, Somerset, & Middlesex County, New Jersey.