Gray Squirrel

Kentucky State Wild Game Animal

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Eastern gray squirrel

Eastern gray squirrel; photo by Robert Taylor on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Gray Squirrel

The eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was designated the official state wild animal game species of Kentucky in 1968. The gray squirrel is a native mammal of the rodent family that has been in North America for over 37 million years.

The eastern gray squirrel (most frequently seen east of the Mississippi River) is best known for Its ability to plan for the future. In autumn, the gray squirrel spends each day gathering nuts and seeds and hiding them so it will have enough food to last through the winter. This behavior is called "scatter hoarding." The squirrel buries food in hundreds of different locations (if another squirrel or animal finds some of them, the rest will still remain). The squirrel cleans each nut or seed before it is hidden, which leaves a scent that the squirrel can find later in the winter (even through a heavy blanket of snow).

Not all nuts or seeds are recovered (since a squirrel saves more food than it needs). These abandoned nuts and seeds then grow into trees and a forest is grown (squirrels are responsible for planting more trees than all of humankind).

Kentucky

Images

Eastern gray squirrel; photo by Thorsten Hansen on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works).

Eastern gray squirrel