There are 22 different squirrel species in Canada, but the red and grey squirrel are very common. These two species can be found all over Ontario in both cities and forested areas. Differentiating between the two can be tricky to the untrained eye, but there are some key differences you can look out for. Note that while they may be cute, squirrels can be a real problem if they get too close. They have the potential to spread disease and do some serious damage to the interior of the home.
The Grey squirrel, or Eastern Grey as it is called in Ontario, is the largest of the two. Weighing between 400 and 600g, this squirrel’s head and body measure up to 30cm in length. The Eastern Grey’s fur is either mostly grey with a white belly or fully black from head to toe. This species is very common in cities and suburbs. The red squirrel, on the other hand, measures only up to 23cm in length and weighs between 200 and 250g. This squirrel has rusty red fur, tufts on its ears, and its tail is shorter in proportion to its body. The American Red squirrel is also known to be a little more aggressive than the grey, possibly due to its size.
Both the Eastern Grey Squirrel and Red American squirrel are opportunistic omnivores that feed primarily on things like nuts, buds, berries, fungi, and insects. The red squirrel, however, eats a lot of spruce seeds because it prefers to live in coniferous forests. As tree-dwellers, both species nest above ground where they can be close to food and relatively safe from predators. Females build nests in the spring to raise their young, and both males and females build nests in the fall when temperatures drop. This behaviour unfortunately puts attics at risk of squirrel invasions. Like trees, they offer squirrels with an opportunity to nest somewhere safe, warm, and above ground.
It is recommended that you avoid a squirrel invasion into the home because squirrels are very destructive creatures. As rodents, their teeth are incredibly strong, allowing them to chew through wood, plastic, rubber, and even soft metals like aluminum. They will tear up the insulation in the attic and make a mess of feces, urine, and debris. Squirrels are also known to chew on electrical wiring and put your home at risk of getting more pests, like insects and raccoons. Check if your roof needs repairs and cover your vents with a thick steel mesh. Switch to squirrel-proof bird feeders and try not to leave any food lying around, like fallen fruit and ripened vegetables.
Red and grey squirrels are adorable to many, but keep in mind that they may break into your home when given the chance. Call a local pest removal company if there are squirrels living in your home. They have the training and experience to safely remove the animals without doing anyone harm.