Curious about the game species in Michigan? Watch for our #WildWednesday blog posts, which will highlight common game species, hunting tips or tricks, and information on how to prepare them once harvested! Our most recent Learn to Hunt program focused on learning to hunt small game, so this segment will focus on habitat requirements and biology of two popular small game species: the Eastern Grey Squirrel and the Fox Squirrel. Currently, both Fox and Eastern Grey Squirrels can be hunted in the state of Michigan until March 1, 2018.
The Eastern Grey Squirrel is a common species across the United States east of the Mississippi river. Grey Squirrels are roughly 10 inches long (not including tail length), and are typically grey with a white to buff belly; they also exhibit a black color morph, also known as melanistic coloring, where the squirrel is completely black. As a forest dwelling animal, Grey Squirrels prefer mature continuous woodlands of deciduous or mixed tree species that can provide plenty of food. They rely heavily on the production of mast such as acorns or hickory nuts, but will eat a variety of things including, but not limited to: the flowers and buds of many trees, seeds, fungi, agricultural crops, insects, bird eggs, and amphibians. Grey Squirrels typically den in tree hollows or build leaf nests, and females typically bear two litters of young per year.
Fox Squirrels are found throughout central and eastern United States, and share the same varied diet as Grey Squirrels. Fox squirrels tend to be slightly larger than Grey Squirrels, at about 10-15 inches long. They typically are a grey/brown color with an orange-rust belly. Although they also exhibit a black color morph, it is rarely seen outside of the southeastern part of their range. Although they still utilize trees to escape predators, nest, and for food sources, Fox Squirrels prefer more open areas and spend much more time foraging on the ground than Grey Squirrels do. Like Grey Squirrels, they can have two litters per year, but one litter is more common.