There are three species of tree squirrels found in this area: Western Gray, Eastern Fox Squirrel and Eastern Gray Squirrel. Of these, only the Western Gray Squirrel is native to California and is usually found in more mountainous regions. The Eastern Fox and Eastern Gray squirrels are commonly found in your backyard and suburban parks. Eastern Gray squirrels are either solid black or gray with white on their tails and stomachs. Eastern Fox squirrels are usually reddish in color with a red and black tipped tail. The fox squirrel is larger in size weighing about 3 pounds, while a gray squirrel only weighs 1.5 pounds. A tree squirrel's diet consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, greens, fungi and grains.
Tree squirrels will typically have two litters of three to six young each year. The first batch arrives in January or February and the second in May or June. The babies are fully weaned at about three months and don't leave their mother until they are almost full-grown.
The mother squirrel will build her nest out of leaves and sticks and will sometimes strip the bark from trees. What looks like a pile of dead leaves to you is actually a home for a mother squirrel and her babies. Squirrels have found that palm trees and their large fronds make excellent nesting sites. Mother squirrels are very good caretakers of their young. She will retrieve babies that have fallen out of the nest and will move her infants to an alternate site if she feels that they are in any danger. If you happen to find a young squirrel, put it at the base of the tree where the nest resides, keep an eye out for cats and most likely the mother will pick it up. If she does not, place it carefully in a shoebox with a soft t-shirt or towel and bring it to the Wildlife Center.
Preventing a problem
Axle grease or sheet metal can be used on or around tree trunks to prevent climbing.
Sprinkling perfumed soap chips or cayenne pepper will prevent them from digging.
Cayenne pepper added to bird seed prior to filling your feeders should discourage squirrels. Birds don't mind the spice but squirrels do!
Purchase a plastic hawk or owl from a hardware store to scare them away. Place the look-a-like in a tree and make sure to move it about once a week or the squirrels will catch on.
You can also visit your local bird feeder store for squirrel deterrent baffles, poles and feeders.
Solving a problem
What do I do with squirrels in the attic or roof?
Squirrels prefer natural habitat for nest building. However, on occasion they will utilize man-made structures to raise their young. To eliminate this possibility, close off any entrances to the foundation of your house or attic. However, do not do this if there might be babies, as they will be trapped. Cut tree limbs that provide access to your roof. Install a spark arrester on your chimney or cap it with heavy wire mesh. Again, be sure there are no babies in the chimney.