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Home > Other Critters > Squirrels


Squirrels are omnivores–they eat seeds, nuts, leaves, bulbs, roots, mushrooms, insects, worms, eggs, small birds, and other small animals. They are rodents that have hairy tails and strong hind legs; there are over 350 species of squirrels worldwide. In the eastern U.S. and adjacent Canada the common "park squirrel" is the eastern gray squirrel. All members of the squirrel family except the flying squirrels are diurnal, which means they are active during the day–this is rare among wild mammals!

Squirrels are considered pests when they enter homes and buildings to nest; when they raid birdfeeders; when they feed on gardens, trees and landscape plantings; and when they dig holes in gardens and lawns to bury and retrieve food.

red squirrel eastern gray squirrel squirrel damage to tree
Red squirrels are the most likely culprit inside homes, where they use insulation for nest building and sometimes chew electrical wiring. Gray squirrels raid fruit and nut trees, and vegetable and flower gardens, where they eat both flower bulbs and buds. Squirrels trim tree leaves and twigs for nest building, and sometimes eat bark during the winter.

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[Photos, left to right: Michael Mengak, University of Georgia,; Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia,; USDA Forest Service - Northeastern Area Archive, USDA Forest Service,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.