Delmarva Fox Squirrel
Chincoteague NWR, Virginia - Photo By Dee
The Delmarva fox squirrel also known as the eastern fox squirrel or Sciurus niger cinereus, is an endangered subspecies of fox squirrel. Its historical range included the Delmarva Peninsula, southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, but its natural occurrence is now limited to parts of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. In these areas the Delmarva fox squirrel's habitat has been degraded and its survivability rates have decreased. It has, however, been successfully reintroduced in other parts of its historical range.
Like all fox squirrels, the Delmarva fox squirrel has a full, fluffy tail. The Delmarva fox squirrel is frosty silver to slate gray with a white belly and can grow to be 75 centimetres (30 in) long, including up to 38 centimetres (15 in) of tail. They weigh around three pounds.
The Delmarva fox squirrel like many squirrel species, use trees to elude predators. Their preferred habitat is mature forest of both hardwood and pine trees with an open understory. An open understory within the forest is needed for the squirrels to successfully feed on nuts and seeds of the many trees such as oaks, hickories, sweet gum, walnut, and loblolly pine during the fall season when these trees are dispersing their seeds. In the summer and early fall they often feed on mature green pine cones. Other less important food sources include buds, fruit, insects, and grain.
These fox squirrels prefer to make their dens in the hollows of trees. However, they will also make a nest of leaves and twigs in the crotch of a tree, in a tangle of vines on a tree trunk, or near the end of a large branch.
Mating occurs in late winter and early spring. Gestation is about 44 days, with most young born between February and April. Litters average 1-6 young, which the female raises by herself.
Over the past several years the populations of Delmarva fox squirrels have been declining rapidly and in 1967 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as an endangered species.