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Northern Indiana's Fox Squirrels

The Wonder of AnimalsAfter spending most of the summer and fall observing my neighbor Jo Ann’s squirrels, I decided I wanted my own little group. Naturally, my group also is Jo Ann’s group or at least, part of Jo Ann’s group, and they have their meals at her diner first. I think it is because she has gourmet food and I’m still serving bread bits and unsalted peanuts. I will improve my menu as soon as I learn more about what is healthy for them to eat. I had no idea that certain foods were unhealthy and even dangerous to give to squirrels. I thought that, since they are scavengers, anything would do. Wrong.

Indiana's Fox Squirrel

Indiana’s Fox Squirrel

A note here regarding my research, as I call it. First, posts are limited in size, so information regarding the Fox squirrel will be shared in many posts, and second, I found many websites that spent more time writing about the pesky side of squirrels and little about the value of squirrels. I find that in our world today there is so much negative about everything, I decided to concentrate on the positive side of squirrels. Yes, they can be pests, but then, can’t we all – whether 4 feet or 2?

Early sitting on the porch railing waiting for breakfast.Early sitting on the porch railing waiting for breakfast.

Ending my first week or so of squirrel researching and watching, I have recruited one little squirrel to my diner. I call him Early, and he faithfully waits for me every morning between 7 and 7:15. It took me a few days to realize that I had inadvertently set the breakfast time and this little guy (I think he is a boy) has taken my initial put-the-food-out time as THE time. I realized this when, after three days into my feeding, I opened the blinds to a cute little reddish-brown squirrel sitting on the window ledge looking at me. The next day, he was sitting up on the porch railing, about 6 inches from the door, waiting, and when I opened the door with breakfast, he jumped over to the top of the storage shed (the diner), turned and stared. I got the idea. His behavior seems to be set in stone – he has me trained. If I am late serving breakfast and I hear him chattering, guilt engulfs me and I hurry to get breakfast served. (Funny how we humans are able to train animals, isn’t it?!)

In the past few days, I have noticed that two to three other squirrels are having their breakfasts here – but stay on the edge of the circle of food. I didn’t know squirrels growled, but when they show up, he certainly makes a sound that sounds like a growl. He is protective of his food. Fortunately, the shed top is large. Strange to note that squirrels in this area seem to sit at the breakfast table longer in the mornings than any other time. Guess once they break the fast, the can nibble all day to fortify themselves enough to last until the next morning.

As I searched the web for squirrel information, I noticed that all of the dependable sites also were referenced in Wikipedia; consequently, because the information is basically the same, I am using Wikipedia as my source. I found working from one source was less cumbersome than shifting from National Geographic to Indiana DNR to Purdue University, etc. So, here we go …

Types: There are at least 200 difference species of squirrels in the United States, the Fox Squirrel being one of the largest sub-categories and the primary type that inhabits Northern Indiana. The Fox Squirrel is spread throughout most of the states, other than Pennsylvania and farther East. Fox Squirrels are found in open small forest stands rather than dense woods.

Fox Squirrel in front of his winter drey.

Fox Squirrel in front of his winter drey.

Nests: Nests are called “dreys” and are of two types, depending upon the season. The summer dreys are interlocking sticks high in the branches of trees, and winter dreys are usually hollowed out of tree trucks or thick ground brush and often used 25 to 30 years by various Fox families. Cohabitation in these dreys is not unusual, especially by breeding pairs.

Guess that’s about all for now. More on my new friend, Early, next post. Hope you are enjoying this trip through squirrel land, and again, please feel free to offer any comments, information and/or corrections to what I have posted. Your opinions matter. Thank you, Dave and Elizabeth, for your input. Very, very much appreciated.

Fox Squirrel 

james
4/10/2015 12:14:10 PM

I loved your article about you & Early... I live in La Porte IN, moved here from Portage. I remember growing up, I used to feed the squirrels all the time....we had either the Red Squirrels or the Fox Squirrels - not sure which....but the squirrel in your pics, look just like the ones I used to feed. I hope you keep writing for a long time, I really enjoy reading your articles. : )