NHMU is studying Fox Squirrels, and we need your help!
The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a species native to the eastern US, has recently become established in Utah. First reported in 2011 along the Jordan River in Salt Lake City, this tree squirrel has been spreading throughout northern Utah. The arrival of fox squirrels offers an opportunity to study, first-hand, the ecology of an introduced species, and you can help!
Our survey is open year-round. Click below to access the online survey form, and explore our data map.
Information you submit to our form 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 (e.g., What do they eat? When are they active? What species do they interact with?)
More fun ways to explore and learn:
Insights from Biologists
2023 virtual Q&A with NHMU's Dr. Eric Rickart and Katrina Derieg.
Created by NHMU’s Youth Teaching Youth, this Zine explores squirrels in Utah.
Stay Curious, Utah!
Students and Teachers! Use scientific skills to discover the squirrels in your neighborhood.
Go Behind the Scenes in the Museum's collections to learn more about squirrels.
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.
American 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
If you have questions about the Utah Fox Squirrels project, please contact NHMU Citizen Science Manager, Ellen Eiriksson.