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Up The Tree
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The fox squirrel's natural range extends throughout the eastern United States, excluding New England, north into the southern prairie provinces of Canada, and west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas. They have been introduced to both northern and southern California. While very versatile in their habitat choices, fox squirrels are most often found in forest patches of 40 hectares or less with an open understory, or in urban neighborhoods with trees. They thrive best among trees such as oak, hickory, walnut, and pine that produce winter-storable foods like nuts. Western range extensions in Great Plains regions such as Kansas are associated with riverine corridors of cottonwood. A subspecies native to several eastern US states is the Delmarva fox squirrel .
Fox squirrels are strictly diurnal, non-territorial, and spend more of their time on the ground than most other tree squirrels. They are still, however, agile climbers. They construct two types of homes called "dreys", depending on the season. Summer dreys are often little more than platforms of sticks high in the branches of trees, while winter dens are usually hollowed out of tree trunks by a succession of occupants over as many as 30 years. Cohabitation of these dens is not uncommon, particularly among breeding pairs.
They are gregarious and playful, often chasing each other up and down trees and across yards and clearings. They have a large vocabulary, consisting most notably of an assortment of clucking and chucking sounds, not unlike some "game" birds, and they warn the listening world of approaching threats with distress screams. In the spring and fall, groups of fox squirrels clucking and chucking together can make a small ruckus. They also make high-pitched whines during mating. When threatening another fox squirrel, they will stand upright with their tail over their back and flick it.
April 26th, 2012
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