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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 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.

Fox Squirrel Survey

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?)

Squirrel Fest is back, December 3-11, 2022

What is Squirrel Fest? This annual call for help observing neighborhood squirrels in Utah has led to new observations and insights into squirrels living in the state. Do squirrels live near you? We'd like to know! 

  • The first 100 people to submit observations during Squirrel Fest (Dec. 3-11, 2022) will be eligible to receive a free thank you gift from NHMU. 
  • Don't see fox squirrels? This is helpful information you can report on the survey form, too!
  • Yearly observations from the community are helping build a picture of where fox squirrels are, and aren't living in Utah, and how they are interacting with the ecosystem. 
  • Have you submitted surveys in the past? Thank you! We hope you can take some time to submit new observations this year from these same locations, to give us insights into any changes that may have taken place. 
  • We are also interested in new observations in the areas surrounding SLC, e.g., anywhere south of Murray, north of Bountiful, west of I-15, and anywhere in and east of the Wasatch Mountain Range. 

More fun ways to explore and learn:

Dr. Eric Rickart.
Insights from Biologists

2020 Q&A with Dr. Eric Rickart & the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

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!

Students and Teachers! Use scientific skills to discover the squirrels in your neighborhood.

Get Savvy!
A fox squirrel study skin.
Explore

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.

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

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.