Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis

One of our most familiar mammals, the grey squirrel can be found in woods, gardens and parks, often proving to be very tame. A grey squirrel can be easily distinguished from a red squirrel by its larger size, grey fur and ears without tufts.


Grey squirrels are frequent visitors to gardens with bird tables and feeders, becoming a pest for many bird-lovers. They feast on hazelnuts by cracking the shell in half. You may also find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind. Squirrels make a rough nest, called a ‘drey’, of twigs, leaves and strips of bark in the fork of a branch, high in the tree canopy.



  • Length: 30cm plus a tail of 20cm
  • Weight: 600g
  • Average lifespan: 3 years


Invasive, non-native species.


England and Wales, absent from much of Scotland.

When to see

January – December


  • Grey squirrels are renowned for their agility, adept climbing and cunning – they can crack open birdfeeders and run along tight-rope washing lines to get at their nutty prize. Gardeners should look out for squirrel-proof feeders and add a little chilli to their bird food – the birds don’t mind, but squirrels don’t like the burning sensation!

Common name

Grey squirrel

Species name

Sciurus carolinensis

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Carstrammon Wood or Lower Nethan Gorge

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