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!

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?)

Our survey is open year-round. Click above to access the online survey form, and explore our data map.

A fox squirrel in the snow.

Thanks for participating in Squirrel Fest 2023!

From December 2-10, 2023, we hosted Squirrel Fest, our annual squirrel data collection extravaganza. 906 surveys were submitted by the community this year! In early 2024, we'll report findings back to you. Stay tuned for more details. Our squirrel survey is open year round, so keep those squirrel observations coming! 

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 you saw is a fox squirrel? Here two native squirrels you are likely to see in northern Utah 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


More fun ways to explore and learn:

Insights from Biologists 

2023 virtual Q&A with NHMU's Dr. Eric Rickart and Katrina Derieg.


Squirrel Zine!

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.


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