On a wild squirrel chase

November 1, 2010 | By | Comments (8)

The comments on my last blog about squirrel damage piqued my curiosity about the little dudes wreaking havoc in my winter garden.

Margaret Sloan passed along Integrated Pest Management information on squirrels from UC Davis. 

There are four types of squirrels in my area. Two are native to the area — the western grey squirrel and the Douglas squirrel. Neither is typically much of a threat in a garden.

Picture 4

Western grey — photo credit

Picture 5

Douglas squirrel — photo credit 

Two others were introduced from the East Coast — the eastern grey squirrel and the eastern fox squirrel.

The eastern fox squirrel is the one that causes the most problems. From the IPM note:

“Of the four tree squirrels, the eastern fox squirrel, sometimes called the red fox squirrel, is by far the most serious pest to homes and gardens in urban and suburban situations. This squirrel can be differentiated from the others by its brownish red-orange fur.” 

Picture 2

Eastern fox squirrel — Photo Credit

Management (trapping, hunting) of all squirrels EXCEPT the eastern fox is prohibited unless issued a permit by the Calif. Dep’t. of Fish and Game.

One question: How might someone set a trap for just the eastern fox? That seems problematic, right?

And here’s the other thing: I’ve seen the squirrels that thrash around the test garden and skedaddle every time I approach. They are JET BLACK.

Like this:

Picture 1

Can’t you just see him mocking me with his eyes?  Photo Credit

Here is another photo from last year’s hawk incident to show you that the ones around here are really black:

Picture 3

So what’s up with this? Where is this brownish red-orange fox squirrel? And who is this jet black guy?


  1. google.com

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    June 14, 2014 at 6:54 am
  2. Johanna

    I hear you, Ingrid. Thank you for chiming in. I don’t want to cause suffering in the garden. The chill flake/garlic sounds like my kind of solution.

    November 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm
  3. Ingrid

    As Ryan mentioned, the black squirrels are a subgroup of the grey squirrels. With respect to trapping non-native species like fox squirrels, I urge people to look for humane, non-lethal solutions — on any wild animal issue. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator and have seen some traps cause significant suffering for animals.

    November 9, 2010 at 2:29 am
  4. Rena Takahashi

    Hi Johanna – sorry to tune in late, but the squirrels here in Cupertino are pretty bad too. I’ve found pretty good success by making a tea out of hot chili flakes and chopped garlic. Steep overnight, and then drench everything. My aunt strains hers and keeps it in a spray bottle – she says it works on all sorts of critters. Yes, the rain will wash it away, but then again, so will your sink water when you’re ready to eat it. And the other downside is that your garden will smell like someone left the kim chee bottle open. whoooo!

    Good luck!

    November 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm
  5. Maze

    My friends live in Sunnyvale and these dudes are crawling all over their backyard. They call them the “Nazgul Squirrels”, after the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings. I’m sorry I can’t tell you their real name, but since they cause so much havoc it might make it a little more fun to curse the Nazgul instead of whatever choice words you’re currently employing.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:05 pm
  6. Miller

    I live in MV and the black squirrels pictured above are the ones constantly digging in my pots and eating my plants. We aren’t really bothered by the gray ones. One day I came home to work to find my new young maple tree (a volunteer from family’s tree) had all of its leaves removed and the trunk was snapped in half!

    November 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm
  7. Ryan

    There is a black variation of the Eastern grey squirrel and the eastern fox squirrel. Look at the illustration on the NYS museum site Mammals Revealed.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm
  8. Christina

    I’ve heard that the black squirrels are foreign and were released when a tree fell in their zoo enclosure during the 1906 earthquake. That may be urban legend.

    November 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

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