Those are fox squirrels.
According to Robbie Norville, a supervising wildlife biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, fox squirrels are native to this area but are more rare than the gray squirrels you often see in your backyard.
He said a fox squirrel is generally larger than a gray squirrel. They can reach up to three pounds, and they have a much longer tails.
Fox squirrels have several different “color phases,” which means they have different color schemes. Some are completely black. Some are black with gray noses and gray feet. Others look kind of like a gray squirrel, but will have red and/or orange-y shading in some areas.
Norville said he sees a lot of squirrels on golf courses for some reason. Originally, the animals lived in North Carolina’s long leaf pine forests. As long leaf pines became scarce, however, they’ve learned to adapt to mixed pine and hardwood areas. They still prefer to have some long leafs in their habitat, though.
They eat the same things gray squirrels do – a wide-ranging diet that includes various tree seeds and the soft wood under a tree’s bark.
Date posted: October 26, 2010
User-contributed question by:
Bill Stevens and Jennifer