About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How many species of squirrels are in Michigan?

Michigan Squirrel SpeciesThere are eight members of the squirrel family living in mid-Michigan. They are all omnivores (eating seeds, insects, fruit, and nuts) except the woodchuck which is an herbivore (eating grasses and dandelions).
1. Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)
Usually observed in yards or traveling electric lines. They range from 18-27 inches from head to tail, and are the largest tree squirrel to be found in our Michigan neighborhood. Their color can vary, but they are generally cinnamon colored with a tan underside.

2. Gray Squirrel (Scierus carolinensis)
This large tree squirrel measuring 16-20 inches is slightly smaller than the Fox Squirrel. Color varies but they are generally black in the East Lansing area. It spends most of its life in the trees of suburban yards and parks.
3. Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Known to many Michigan tree-stand hunters as the "Tattle-tail of the Forest", this small tree squirrel is easily identified by to its small size of 12-15 inches from nose to tail, making them slightly larger than a chipmunk. Their size might make you think that they are a juvenile fox squirrel, but this is not the case. Their color is a solid reddish brown with a whitish underbelly.

4. Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)5. Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)
The flying squirrel is rarely seen due to their nocturnal habits. Northern (7-9”) and Southern (5-7”) Flying Squirrels appear nearly identical but for their size and range. This species can be identified by its flattened tail and the excess web of skin that is between its front and rear legs. These squirrels don’t actually fly but glide from the top on one tree to the trunk of the next.
6. Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Found throughout Michigan, this small (6-8in) ground squirrel is reddish brown with a white racing stripe bordered by two black stripes down its side. Its loud “chip, chip, chip” can be heard as it forages for seeds, insects, fruit and nuts. During the winter it is a light hibernator that wakes every 2-3 weeks and eats from its stash stored in its elaborate tunnels system underground.
7. Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)
Similar in size (6-8”) and look to an Eastern Chipmunk but has smaller ears and 13 alternating tan and dark brown stripes from nape to base of the tail. It’s also called a Federation Squirrel because the dark stripes have tan spots that resemble stars and stripes of a flag. It is a true hibernator from September to October. They like to live in pastures, meadows, prairies, and fields.

8. Woodchuck (Marmota monax)
The name Woodchuck is said to come from the Cree Indian word wuchak which means little brown animal. Common in fields, pastures, and woodlands, the woodchuck (18-28”) is the largest member of the squirrel family. The woodchuck does not like wood but eats leafy green vegetation and especially likes dandelions. It also burrows like the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel and is a true hibernator.

Mammals of Michigan Field Guide
by Stan Tekiela


Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting all the information and images in one place.

Anonymous said...

Very informative. I was glad to get the information I needed in one site! Thank you for having the description and photos available for a quick reference.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your pictures of squirrels. It helped me find out what I seen about 2:0 am this morning(6-29-12) I HAVE ONLY SEEN PICTURES OF THEM. It was a NORTHERN FLYING SQUIRREL. My dogs were barking and I finley went to see what they were barking at. It was real cute. I live in Grayling, MI

Anonymous said...

I got to see up close the Northern Flying squirrel, last night. I didn't know Michigan even had them, and I was born and raised here! I even got a great picture of it. It is awesome!!!

#FeedtheBirds said...

If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.

GenericMe56 said...

Thank you for publishing this concise and very informative article about Michigan squirrels. Just what I was looking for.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Delta Township. There is a very small squirrel, it has the reddish colors, but is a lot smaller than the others. It comes down from a large locust tree. Is this a small subspecies?

boris said...

Thank You for the pictures. I just caught an immature flying squirrel in a mouse trap in the attic. I have an old 2-story farmhouse with no nearby trees, but surrounded with forest. Sigh--squirrels in the house.