8 Types of Squirrels in Texas (with Pictures)

There are seven different squirrel species in Texas, with five of them being ground squirrels and three of them being tree squirrels. We can usually find them all over the state, and today, we’ll be learning exactly where that is.

The seven types of squirrels in Texas are:

  • Eastern Gray Squirrel
  • Flying Squirrel
  • Fox Squirrel
  • Rock Squirrel
  • Mexican Ground Squirrel
  • Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
  • Spotted Ground Squirrel
  • Texas Antelope Squirrel

Table of Contents

1. Eastern Gray Squirrel

Scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis

You can find this species of squirrel in the eastern quarter of Texas. It is one of four subspecies of the gray squirrel, but the only one found in the Lone Star State.

Mostly eating seeds and nuts, these animals are foragers and collectors. If they can’t eat all the food immediately, they’ll store it and prepare themselves for the winter.

  • Size: around 21 inches.
  • Color: underside is white, back and the rest of the body is gray and brown.
  • Tail: around 10 inches – as long as the rest of the body.
  • Food: seeds and nuts, but flowers and grasses too.

2. Flying Squirrel

Scientific name (tribe): Pteromyini

Flying squirrels are entirely dependent on forests because of their ability to glide through the air, so they inhabit a pocket of space in east Texas, moving further inland, towards central Texas.

They mostly move at night, harvesting fruits, nuts, and bird eggs. Their innate ability to jump off a tree and glide through the air isn’t just a quick means of travel, but it’s a great way of escaping predators too.

  • Size: up to 11 inches.
  • Color: white underside, top of the body is grey.
  • Tail: flat, bushy, and short.
  • Food: nuts, fruits, and bird eggs.
  • Fun fact: flying squirrels fluoresce pink under UV light – other squirrels do not.

3. Fox Squirrel

Scientific name: Sciurus niger

This squirrel covers the entire state of Texas, except for the western and northwestern tips of the state. There, they nest in tree cavities and build their nests from leaves.

Diets differ from area to area, so the diet of a fox squirrel in Texas is different from a fox squirrel in Kansas. In Texas, they eat oak acorns as a preferable food, and they avoid swamp chestnut oak acorns.

  • Size: about 30 inches.
  • Color: a brown underside with gray and rust color on top.
  • Tail: long and fluffy, about 15 inches.
  • Food: in Texas – mostly oak acorn.

4. Rock Squirrel

Scientific name: Otospermophilus variegatus

These squirrels have a very specific set of habitat needs, so they can only survive in west Texas, where there are enough rocky mountains, cliffs, shrubbery and the weather is warm almost constantly.

The rock squirrel mostly feeds on foliage – leaves and stems – but also seeds and small vertebrates. If possible, they’ll eat nuts, berries, and acorns, and even remains of dead squirrels.

  • Size: up to 21 inches.
  • Color: gray and brown on top, light-colored rings around the eyes, white markings on the tail.
  • Tail: long and bushy.
  • Food: mostly foliage and seeds. Will resort to cannibalism given the opportunity.

5. Mexican Ground Squirrel

Scientific name: Ictidomys mexicanus

Second ground squirrel is found in Texas, we can spot this species in central and western Texas, but also the Gulf Coast of Texas. This species has adapted very well to industrialization and urbanization, so you can find it near your home too.

They primarily eat seeds and grains, but they’ll eat insects and mice too. Most of the seeds and grains are stored for later. The Mexican ground squirrel is a solitary animal and it doesn’t associate with other squirrels except for mating?

  • Size: about 15 inches – males are larger than females.
  • Color: brown with nine rows of white spots on its back.
  • Tail: thin and flat.
  • Food: mostly seeds and nuts – they store food for later.

6. Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

Scientific name: Ictidomys tridecemlineatus

This squirrel lives in the northern horn of the Lone Star State, and down a line heading from the north to the Gulf Coast in the southeast. It’s very easy to recognize because of the thirteen alternating brown and white lines. Some people mistake it for the Mexican ground squirrel.

Even though they eat grasses and weeds, they’re very carnivorous too, eating caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets too. They’ll even attack mice if the prey is small enough to be killed.

  • Size: up to 12 inches.
  • Color: brown with alternating brown and white lines.
  • Tail: about 5 inches long, flattened.
  • Food: grasses, weeds, insects, and even small mammals.

7. Spotted Ground Squirrel

Scientific name: Xerospermophilus spilosoma

This squirrel found its home in the north and west Texas, as well as the areas alongside the Mexican border. It’s one of the smallest squirrels, so they burrow themselves in the ground to avoid becoming food.

The spotted ground squirrel is primarily a herbivore – they eat seeds and foliage, especially green grass shoots. They’ll also eat insects in the summer, but they’re not active hunters.

  • Size: up to 10 inches.
  • Color: white underbelly, brown back, and white spots on the back.
  • Tail: long and hairy, but thin.
  • Food: mostly seeds, foliage, and shoots – insects are eaten in the summer.

8. Texas Antelope Squirrel

Scientific name: Ammospermophilus interpres

The last entry on our list inhabits parts of western Texas, where they make nests in burrows, usually in rock crevices or shrubs. They have two litters of squirrels a year.

The Texas antelope squirrel eats insects, seeds and berries – interestingly, they also eat different species of cactus, including the fruits and seeds. They’re a delicacy in some areas of Mexico.

  • Size: up to 9 inches.
  • Color: gray and brown with a white stripe alongside the torso.
  • Tail: white and long.
  • Food: seeds, berries, insects, and cacti.

Leave a Comment