what kind of squirrels live in ontario

What Kind of Squirrels Live in Ontario?

With an abundance of food, vast forests and national parks, and ease of adapting to urban environments, Ontario is the closest squirrels can get to Heaven on Earth. There are so many squirrels in Ontario province, and going out for a leisurely stroll it’s likely you’ll encounter many different species of squirrels along the way. 

In fact, there are 22 species of squirrels in Ontario⁠— 16 are ground species, while 6 are the flying kind. In this article, you will learn more about the most common species of squirrels in Ontario.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel, Or is it Even Gray?

If you see any squirrel in Ontario, especially in urban areas, it’s likely to be this little guy. Contrary to what their name suggests, they come in a variety of colours from gray, black, tan, and white. 

According to David Sugarman from the Ontario Science Center,  “A grey squirrel is always a grey squirrel and a black squirrel is always a black squirrel, but they are the same species – it’s just a colour variant.” The colour variant comes from the differing amounts of melanin in squirrels, with the black squirrels producing more melanin than their lighter counterparts. Their belly colour also ranges from white to grayish.

These squirrels can often be found in city parks and forests, munching and storing various seeds and nuts from trees. They are also the cause of many home invasions, as they like to make their nests in warm, dark areas.

The Red Squirrel, The Angrier Cousin of Eastern Grays

These guys are much more territorial than eastern gray squirrels. They are usually alone unlike eastern grays, and can be identified with their copper-colored fur, shorter tails, and smaller bodies.

They also are big chatters. They screech, cluck, and make various noises to warn others of their presence. Yes, these guys mean business. Luckily enough for Ontario residents, however, red squirrels aren’t as big a nuisance as Eastern Grays.

In a study by the University of Exeter squirrel behaviour expert Pizza Ka Yee Chow, a simple puzzle was given to gray squirrels and red squirrels. This puzzle, which consisted of a simple flap opening to get food, tested the squirrels’ intelligence. 

The result? 91% of gray squirrels solved it, while only 68% of red squirrels did. This explains why red squirrels aren’t as common when pest control services are called. However, red squirrel infestations still exist, although are rarer than eastern gray squirrel infestations.

The Southern Flying Squirrel, a Glorious Glider

The Southern Flying Squirrel, found mostly in the deciduous forests of southern Ontario, can’t actually fly. However, they are great gliders, capable of gliding as far as 45 metres before touching down. Covered with thick gray fur and a white belly, they are capable of changing direction mid-air using their bushy tails.

While Southern Flying Squirrels were once on Ontario’s list of species of special concern due to forest fragmentation and dwindling tree cavities, they are now more widespread than previously thought. 

The main difference of the flying squirrel— besides its gliding capabilities— is that this species is nocturnal. Because of this, they are less commonly seen than eastern grays or red squirrels. However, if you hear scampering noises in your attic at night, it may be the cause of a flying squirrel.

Need Professional Help?

Whatever species of squirrel you are having problems with, consider contacting a professional squirrel removal company. Professionals will be able to correctly identify and provide solutions to getting rid of these squirrels from your home.

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