Before I moved here, I had no idea what a variety there is within the squirrel family. I suppose if you think about it, it makes sense, but it’s funny to think something as large as a groundhog is a cousin to something so small as a chipmunk.
For instance, did you know that chipmunks are ground-dwelling squirrels? I didn’t until I starting learning about chipmunks.
The first chipmunk I saw here was roaming around my back patio. He would show up occasionally and I would try to snap a photo, but he was so small and my camera’s zoom is hardly adequate.
Then he disappeared for a while so I wondered if he had moved on. Nope.
I began seeing him in the mornings under the bird feeder in my side yard. He would stuff his cheeks as full of seeds as he could and then hop back into the underbrush and disappear. Because he always looked like he’s overstuffed, I named him Theodore (via Alvin and the Chipmunks)
I haven’t seen him lately but it is getting cooler, so he may be hibernating.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
So now that we know groundhogs and chipmunks are both in the squirrel family, it is less surprising to learn about the various types of tree squirrels in the area. A little more surprising is that for most of the summer, I did not see any Eastern Gray Squirrels which is the most frequently seen squirrel in most cities.
But as the days grow cooler, I have seen a few along the forest edge trying to shake free some walnuts. One day, I even saw one in the walnut tree in front of my house.
Most recently, I see them jumping quickly through the tree branches in the back or side forest.
Eastern Fox Squirrel
One day I was walking to the back of the house and glanced out the window to the wooden fence separating my property from my neighbor’s. Low and behold, there was this reddish squirrel with a tail as long as its body sunbathing on one of the rails. I knew I had to act fast, so I grabbed my camera and took a few shots from the closest window (which was kind of dirty).
It was not long before he jumped down and started grazing in the yard with his tail doubled over his body as if it were some sort of protection. I grabbed the binoculars and checked him out more closely. He had a square, white nose but the rest of him was this red color. I thought because of that maybe he was a Red Squirrel but considering his nose and really long tail, I found he was a red Eastern Fox Squirrel. He was fun to watch!
Unfortunately, I have not seen him much lately, but that was definitely one of the coolest sightings to date. I’ll keep you posted if I see him again.