We’re currently aware of five species of squirrels found in Virginia, with there being at least a dozen species found around the entire country. These animals usually aren’t difficult to spot despite their small size.
There are even squirrels that have become so accustomed to humans that they’re willing to approach us if you find them in the woods. Squirrels spend the majority of their time in the trees.
We can also find them in hardwood trees near urban areas, making it more likely for you to see them.
Find the five species of squirrels in Virginia below:
- Northern Flying Squirrel
- Southern Flying Squirrel
- Fox Squirrel
- Gray Squirrel
- Red Squirrel
1. Northern Flying Squirrel
There are currently two known subspecies of the northern flying squirrel, and we can find both of them in the most western part of the Virginia state, bordering with West Virginia. Mostly in the George Washington National Forest and the Monongahela National Forest.
Aside from that and a few pockets in the northeast of the country, these animals are rare in the States. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and they don’t weigh more than 6.5 ounces.
- Size: 11 to 12 inches in length.
- Color: brown to gray-brown coat.
- Tail: broad and horizontally flat.
Food: different fungi species, mushrooms, lichens, insects, flowers, and nuts.
2. Southern Flying Squirrel
Unlike the northern flying squirrel, we can find this species throughout the entire Old Dominion, except for the most western tip of Virginia. There, they make their home in heavy deciduous timber forests, near a stable source of water.
They rarely grow to be longer than 10 inches and they’re good hunters – the most carnivorous out of all squirrels. They stay safe from predators by building their nest 20 feet above the ground, where they give birth to two litters a year.
- Size: rarely larger than 10 inches.
- Color: their underparts are usually a soft brown, while the root of their hair is gray. Their feet, while gray, become white in the winter. Black fur around the eyes.
- Tail: flat and parallel-sided with a round tip, very densely-haired.
Food: aside from nuts, they love fungi, insects, bird eggs, and lichens.
3. Fox Squirrel
This squirrel is easy to find to the west of the Blue Ridge mountains, with reports of sightings in Southampton County. There, they’ll make dens in decaying trees alongside forest borders near agricultural lands of Virginia.
Opposite to the southern flying squirrel, they mainly feed on nuts, and consuming insects and bird eggs is rare. They store nuts in shallow ground and remember where they stored them, returning to get them when they’re hungry.
They’re fairly large for a squirrel, sometimes even 24 inches long, weighing up to 3 pounds. Their foreheads are also flatter than the gray squirrel’s forehead.
- Size: up to 24 inches, but usually a bit shorter.
- Color: a combination of brown, white, and orange, with their head top being black.
- Tail: usually as long as the body itself, tucked behind their backs.
Food: not very carnivorous, they forage the ground for nuts.
4. Gray Squirrel
Up to 21 inches in length, this squirrel is often found in southeast Virginia, where they live in forests, parks, and backyards. They’re one of the friendlier squirrel species and they’re not afraid of approaching humans.
Usually feeding in the early morning and late afternoon, they’re primarily herbivorous. They usually stay in a single spot until they eat all the nuts they can get their paws on, after which they’ll move.
These squirrels don’t hibernate, but they’ll hide in their den if the weather is dangerous (rain, snowstorms, hail). They communicate with one another through calls.
- Size: up to 21 inches, with females closer to 12 inches.
- Color: the coat is a combination of gray and brown, but it’s white under the chin and on the abdomen.
- Tail: longer in the winter, bushy, gray in color with a white border.
Food: they can eat up to 1000 nuts per year, but they’ll sometimes eat insects and eggs.
5. Red Squirrels
Scientific name: Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
One of the smallest tree squirrels, we can find the gray squirrel in the western quarter of Virginia, preferring spruce, fir, and hemlock forests. High elevations suit them best, which is why they like counties west of the Blue Ridge mountains.
They’re tolerant to mushroom poison, so they eat many different mushroom species, while they also enjoy pupae and larvae. They’ll store their nuts in large caches that they can easily access when they need them.
Gray squirrels will store the fungi in tree crotches, near their nests. Unlike many other silent squirrels, verbal communication is very common with this species.
- Size: a small species, usually around 11 inches in length.
- Color: olive-gray sides with some black hair and a rusty band. The underparts are almost white.
- Tail: flat and bushy, usually as long as the entire body.
Food: seemingly immune to mushroom poison – feed mostly on mushrooms, larvae, and nuts.