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Utah Fox Squirrels

NHMU is studying Fox Squirrels, and we need your help!

A fox squirrel

The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a species native to the eastern half of the US, have recently become established in Utah. They were first reported in 2011 in Salt Lake City along the Jordan River, and have since been spreading along the Wasatch Front. The arrival of Fox Squirrels has offered an opportunity to study, first-hand, the ecology of an introduced species, and it is also the perfect opportunity to harness the power of citizen science!

Fox Squirrel Survey

Data you submit will help NHMU scientists:

  • Explore the distribution of Fox Squirrels (where they are present, or not present)
  • Understand how are they interacting with their environment (What do they eat? When are they active?, etc.)

Squirrel Fest 

NHMU hosted Squirrel Fest December 7-13th, 2020 and we received hundreds of squirrel observations from citizen scientists in Utah. Thank you to everyone who took part! We're keeping the observation form open, so continue to look for, observe, and send us info on Fox Squirrels using our data form above. 

Dr. Eric Rickart.
Facebook Live Q&A

Watch a recording of our live Q&A on December 10 with local experts.

Watch the Q&A
A fox squirrel
Squirrel Zine!

Created by NHMU’s Youth Teaching Youth, this Zine explores squirrels in Utah.

Go Nuts!
A fox squirrel
Stay Curious, Utah!

Use scientific skills to discover more about the squirrels in your neighborhood.

Get Savvy!
A fox squirrel study skin.
Explore More

Go Behind the Scenes in the Museum's collections to learn more about squirrels.

Take a Tour


Tips for identifying Fox Squirrels

  • Adults are large compared to Utah's native tree squirrels, ranging from 18 to 28 inches in total length (including the tail).
  • Have grizzled gray-and-orange backs and undersides that range from pale yellow to bright orange.
  • Tails are very bushy, bright orange, and very long (very fox-like!) – almost as long as their body.
  • Highly adapted to living in trees, and travelling along power lines and fences. When startled, they will escape by climbing.
  • Fox Squirrel Vocalizations

Utah's native squirrels

Not sure if the squirrel you saw is a fox squirrel? Here are Utah's native squirrels for comparison.

Red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

  • Smaller than fox squirrels, about 12-16 inches long including their tails.
  • Have dark, reddish-brown backs and a pale, creamy underside.
  • Tails are not as bushy as a fox squirrel's.
  • Common around conifer trees in parks, but also travel along telephone lines.
  • Red Squirrel Chatter

Rock squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)

  • About the same size as a fox squirrel.
  • Grizzled gray backs with yellow and brown highlights. Their underside is pale.
  • Long tail, but it is only slightly bushy.
  • Spend most of their time on the ground and run rather than bound.
  • When startled, they will retreat to a burrow or rock plie rather than climb.
  • Rock Squirrel vocalizations

Read our Fox Squirrel FAQ's here

If you have questions about the Utah Fox Squirrels project, please contact NHMU Citizen Science Coordinator, Ellen Eiriksson.