Oregon seemingly provides the ideal climate for squirrels, which is why we can find an astonishing fifteen different types of squirrels that have settled in Oregon. They settle in wooded areas and forests of decaying wood, spending their time foraging for nuts and seeds.
Have a look at all the squirrels in Oregon on the list below:
- White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
- California Ground Squirrel
- Belding’s Ground Squirrel
- Columbian Ground Squirrel
- Wyoming Ground Squirrel
- Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
- Merriam’s Ground Squirrel
- Piute Ground Squirrel
- Washington Ground Squirrel
- Eastern Gray Squirrel
- Western Gray Squirrel
- Eastern Fox Squirrel
- Douglas’ Squirrel
- Red Squirrel
- Northern Flying Squirrel
Table of Contents
1. White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
Scientific name: Ammospermophilus leucurus
We can find this species of squirrel to the south and to the east of an imaginary line connecting Vale with Malheur County, Harney Lake, Harney County and Lake County.
This squirrel is by far the smallest species of squirrel you’ll find in Oregon, they’re a non-hibernating species, feeding primarily on foliage and seeds. Sometimes, they’ll also eat insects and very small lizards.
- Size: usually less than 9 inches.
- Color: a white stripe on each side with a white tail, stomach, and chin are also white. The rest of the body is tan.
- Tail: unmistakably white.
Food: more than 50% foliage and more than 20% seeds – insects and larvae are rarely on the menu.
2. California Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus beecheyi
We can find these large squirrels west of the Cascade Range, but they also occupy the center of Oregon. They’re ground squirrels, but they’re still good climbers and we can often see them on the trees.
They store massive amounts of
- Size: up to 19 inches.
- Color: mottled colors with a few gray hairs on the shoulders and the sides.
- Tail: about 6 inches in length, bushy.
Food: seeds, nuts and fruits if possible.
3. Belding’s Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus beldingi
Found south of Fish Lake and south and east of Enterprise, Maupin and Diamond Lake, this squirrel loves meadows, flats and pastures. There, they spend almost 80% of an entire year in hibernation!
These Oregon squirrels can grow up to 12 inches in length and they mainly eat flowers and seeds – but they won’t say no to an insect if they stumble upon one. They need to completely fill themselves with fat to survive hibernation.
- Size: up to 12 inches.
- Colors: mostly gray at the belly, but copper on the back.
- Tail: short in comparison to other species (3 inches), flattened.
Food: mostly seeds, nuts and flowers. Rarely insects.
4. Columbian Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus columbianus
Up next, we have the Columbian ground squirrel, a species we can find in Wallowa County and the Blue Mountains of Oregon. They tend to stay away from the forests, so you’re most likely going to find them in openings such as meadows.
They’re only active for less than 94 days, and they spend the rest of the year hidden away, hibernating, to avoid freezing to death. To survive this, they have to fill up on fats and carbs throughout the season.
- Size: up to 16 inches.
- Color: gray and light brown, with the underside being entirely brown.
- Tail: up to 4.5 inches long.
Food: almost exclusively succulents – they’re the most herbivorous ground squirrel.
5. Wyoming Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus elegans
The Beaver State is also home to the Wyoming ground squirrel, a species found in southeastern Oregon. Just like many other squirrels, it only spends a small portion of the year active.
These squirrels appear to be more yellow in comparison to other ground squirrels, and their tail is also longer than the tails of other ground squirrels.
- Size: up to 15 inches.
- Color: brown and gray.
- Tail: fairly long and buff.
Food: they mainly eat grass, but also shrubs and forbs.
6. Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus lateralis
This species is common in central Oregon, Siskiyou Mountain, Steens Mountain and Wallowa Mountains. We also find them east of the Cascade Range and south of Huntington.
They prefer a combination of rocky areas with forested areas and shrubs. When it comes to feeding, they’ll primarily eat nuts, acorns and fungi, but also insects, bird eggs and small lizards if possible.
- Size: up to 11 inches.
- Color: yellow and gray underside, topside is dark brown.
- Tail: brown and thin.
Food: primarily nuts and acorns, but also insects and small lizards if possible.
7. Merriam’s Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus canus
You can find this squirrel in most of Oregon – their territory ends at the North Fork Owyhee River. They live in arid environments full of sagebrush, but also plains, pastures and fields.
Even though they’re omnivorous, they mostly feed on seeds, roots and bulbs. They’ll eat insects if they can find any, and they’re also considered a pest as they eat alfalfa and domesticated grains.
- Size: up to 9 inches.
- Color: gray all over its body with a white underside.
- Tail: up to 2 inches long.
Food: primarily seeds and roots. They’re a pest because they eat domesticated grains.
8. Piute Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus mollis
These squirrels occur in south Malheur County in Oregon, where they live in shrubbery and bushes. They like to settle in a combination of rocky areas with greasewood and sagebrush.
They mostly eat leaves, stems and roots, as well as flowers and seeds. They’ll eat insects if they find any. Hibernation lasts for the majority of the year, and they’re only active from February to May.
- Size: up to 9 inches.
- Color: brown and gray, underside is lighter.
- Tail: barely visible because it’s very short.
Food: mostly roots and stems, but also flowers, seeds and insects.
9. Washington Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus washingtoni
This is an endemic species of squirrel, found only in the Deschutes-Columbia Plateau Province of the Beaver State. They live in colonies and only emerge from hibernation in the first few months of the year.
Their diet consists of grasses, seeds and forbs – they eat more than 100 plant species. Washington ground squirrels will establish their burrows in areas that are full of edible plants.
- Size: up to 9 inches.
- Color: white spots on the back, gray and white underside.
- Tail: very short, no more than 2 inches.
Food: grasses, seeds and forbs.
10. Eastern Gray Squirrel
Scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis
A non-native species, the eastern gray squirrel was introduced to areas around Salem, Portland, Milwaukie and Vale. Interestingly, unlike with other states, this squirrel lives in urban areas of Oregon, instead of living in the wild.
They’re some of the most omnivorous squirrels – feeding on flowers, berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, fungi, insects and bird eggs. Sometimes, they’ll even show signs of predatory behavior – killing and eating small birds, even other squirrels.
- Size: around 21 inches.
- Color: gray and brown fur with a white underside.
- Tail: up to 10 inches – usually as long as the body.
Food: everything from flowers and grasses, to seeds, nuts and other animals.
11. Western Gray Squirrel
Scientific name: Sciurus griseus
This squirrel lives in forested areas of Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco and Klamath. They spend the majority of their life in the trees, building very large nests high up in the trees.
They forage the ground for seeds and nuts, berries, fungi and insects. When it comes to movement, they’ll much rather jump from tree to tree than walk the Oregon ground. They only walk on the ground when they’re foraging for
- Size: up to 24 inches.
- Color: gray with white undersides.
- Tail: long and very bushy.
Food: seeds, nuts, fungi, berries and insects.
12. Eastern Fox Squirrel
Scientific name: Sciurus niger
This squirrel is found in several Oregon counties; Union, Clackamas, Yamhill, Baker, Marion, Washington and Lane. There, it spends a lot of time in urban areas, not just the wild.
Feeding habits of this squirrel depend mostly on the area they inhabit. In Oregon, they mostly eat tubers, roots, bulbs, insects and bird eggs. They’ll forage the ground for
- Size: up to 30 inches.
- Color: a combination of gray and rust, underside is brown.
- Tail: half of their body length – up to 15 inches.
Food: roots and bulbs, also insects and bird eggs.
13. Douglas’ Squirrel
Scientific name: Tamiasciurus douglasii
This squirrel inhabits the area from Baker County throughout the entire state of Oregon, all the way to the Pacific coast. They nest in forests, where they’re active in the morning and the afternoon.
- Size: up to 13 inches.
- Color: very dark, with a gray underside. During the summer, the colors are less dark because they shed.
- Tail: about 5 inches long, black.
Food: foraging and storing seeds, nuts, acorns and mushrooms.
14. Red Squirrel
Scientific name: Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
The red squirrel lives in forested areas of Oregon, primarily counties Baker, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Malheur. They spend the majority of their lives in the trees, especially lodgepole pine.
Their diet mostly consists of tree seeds, fungi, nuts and berries. They’re sometimes seen eating bird eggs, but this is very rare – they’re opportunistic omnivores and they’ll eat whatever’s at hand.
- Size: up to 17 inches.
- Color: rust-red, with a white underside.
- Tail: up to 8 inches, fluffy and long.
Food: mostly tree seeds, nuts and berries – they eat meat very rarely.
15. Northern Flying Squirrel
Scientific name: Glaucomys sabrinus
Lastly, the northern flying squirrel lives in the Blue Mountains, Wallowa Mountains and Ochoco Mountains, but it also occupies areas west of the Cascade Range.
Unlike most other squirrels, this species is mostly nocturnal, foraging for fungi, lichens, mushrooms, insects and tree sap. They’ll also eat truffles, which they can smell from below the ground.
- Size: up to 14.5 inches long.
- Color: light brown on top and white underside.
- Tail: short, fluffy and flattened – important when flying.
Food: fungi, mushrooms, insects, lichens and tree sap.