Fauna Flora Photography

Eastern Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis

Frequent species seen in all parks in and around Montreal all year long. Not very shy, frequently begging for food. Don't feed wild animals!



Common Names

EnglishEastern Grey Squirrel
FrenchÉcureuil gris
SpanishArdilla de las Carolinas


SpeciesSciurus carolinensis

How to Identify

Distinguishable from the other squirrel species due to the fur color which usually is grey on the back. Two variants can be observed, the not uncommon dark variant with a dark brown almost black fur and the white variant which is very rare. Note that the white variant is not an albino.

Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Bernard-Landry - 2022-09-22
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Mont-Royal - 2018-01-28
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Angrignon - 2016-10-30
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Mont-Royal - 2016-03-04
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Angrignon - 2016-01-17
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Parc Mont-Royal - 2016-01-02

Eastern Grey Squirrel Trivia

Is the Eastern Grey Squirrel the largest of all tree squirrels?

No, this species is a medium-sized squirrel. There are larger tree squirrels such as the fox squirrel and the Indian giant squirrel.

Can the Eastern Grey Squirrel eat their own body weight every week?

Yes. It can consume up to one pound of food per week, which is about the same as their average body weight.

Does the Eastern Grey Squirrel build nests in tree branches?

Yes, it builds a nest, which is called a drey, in the forks of tree branches or in tree cavities. The drey is made of twigs, leaves, moss, and fur, and can be up to two feet in diameter.

Can Eastern Grey Squirrel communicate with each other using their tails?

Indeed, it uses its large bushy tail for communication. Eastern Grey Squirrel can flick its tail in different ways to signal its mood, intentions, or warnings to other squirrels or predators.

Does the Eastern Grey Squirrel hibernate during the winter?

No, it does not hibernate, but it may become less active during cold or stormy weather. It relies on its stored fat and cached food to survive the winter months.

Can the Eastern Grey Squirrel remember where they buried their food?

Yes. It is an expert at hiding food for later use. It can bury up to thousands of nuts and seeds in different locations and remember where they are by using landmarks and spatial memory.

Can the Eastern Grey Squirrel live up to 20 years in the wild?

No, this species has a lifespan of about six years in the wild, but it can live up to 12 years in captivity. The main threats to its survival are predators, diseases, parasites, and human activities.

Is the Eastern Grey Squirrel native to North America?

Yes, this species is native to the eastern and midwestern United States and the southern parts of Canada. It has been introduced to other regions, such as Europe, South Africa, and Australia.

Can the Eastern Grey Squirrel swim?

Yes, this species is an excellent swimmer and can cross rivers and lakes when necessary. It uses its tail as a rudder and its front paws as paddles. It can also hold its breath for several minutes underwater.

Is the Eastern Grey Squirrel herbivorous?

No, this species is an omnivorous animal that eats both plant and animal matter. Besides nuts and seeds, it also feeds on fungi, insects, eggs, and even small animals such as mice, birds, and frogs.

Can the Eastern Grey Squirrel make different sounds?

Indeed, the Eastern Grey Squirrel is a vocal animal that can make various sounds to communicate with other squirrels or predators. Some of the common sounds are barks, buzzes, wails, squeals, trills, squeaks, and purrs.

Is the Eastern Grey Squirrel immune to rabies?

No. This species can contract rabies. However, rabies is rare in squirrels and they are not considered a major source of transmission to humans or pets.

Where and When to Spot

Eastern Grey Squirrel can be observed almost everywhere, in all parks in and around Montreal. Even along the streets in between parks.

Belvédère Outremont x - - x
Boisé Des Douze x - - -
Champ des Possibles x - - -
Jardin Botanique de Montréal x x x x
Parc Angrignon x x x x
Parc Bernard-Landry x - x -
Parc Michel-Chartrand - - - x
Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies x - - x
Parc de la Frayère x - - -
Parc des Rapides x x x x

Where and when a species has been observed, identified, and recorded.

Videos of Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Last updated on 2023-12-15. Written and regularly updated by Karl-Heinz Müller, Dipl. Natw. ETH, Biology. With 10 years of experience in wildlife photography, Karl-Heinz shares first-hand, on-site collected observations, photos and videos from his frequent visits to parks in the Montreal area.