About Southern California Squirrel Survey | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

From left to right: Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger), Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus), California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi), Squirrel Survey Outreach

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Southern California Squirrel Survey

About - Southern California Squirrel Survey

Did you know that the eastern fox squirrels commonly observed in southern California are not native to the area? As their common name implies, these tree squirrels were introduced from the eastern United States about 100 years ago. We’re interested in tracking the expansion of this introduced species, but we also hope to gain valuable insight into what is happening when the introduced eastern fox squirrel comes into contact with the native western gray squirrel. Both are large bushy-tailed tree squirrels but you can tell them apart by their color: eastern gray squirrels have reddish-brown fur and are commonly seen in urban and suburban neighborhoods; western gray squirrels have silver-gray fur and live in the forested areas of our mountains and foothills.

We’re also interested in observations of other squirrel species in southern California. The northern flying squirrel is a small brown-gray nocturnal species found in the conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains. The lodgepole chipmunk and Merriam’s chipmunk can be difficult to tell apart, but both can be found in parts of southern California. There are also several ground squirrel species that occur in southern California: the California ground squirrel, the antelope ground squirrel, the round-tailed ground squirrel, and the Mojave ground squirrel.

We welcome photo submissions of all the above species, but we hope you’ll tell us more about your observations. Was the squirrel vocalizing, eating, or interacting with another animal? In what kind of habitat was it seen? The more detailed the observation, the better.