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National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Gray and Fox Squirrel Control

Fox squirrel. Photo by Nebraska Game & Parks CommissionScientific Name 
  • Gray Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
  • Fox Squirrel  Sciurus niger

Fox squirrel eating a corn cob. Photo Credits: NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Photo


  • Diurnal
  • Mating 2-3 times per year with 3-5 young per litter
  • Superb climbers
  • Scatter cache food rather than making a single cache
  • Live in leaf nests high in trees and/or tree crevices.


  • small inch-wide holes created in turf, wood mulch when squirrels bury or retrieve nuts and other stored food items.
  • make noises when upset that sounds like "chrr"
  • Tracks are paired with hind feet preceding front feet. Tracks may lead to base of tree. Tracks are smaller than cottontail rabbit.


  • gnaw and strip bark, from upper branches of trees. These are usually 1/2 inch wide and three to sixbark stripping by squirrels. Photo by Dallas Virchow inches long. Other small limbs branches of one- to two-feet in length and 1/4 to 1/2 inch diameter are clipped and dropped to the ground. This activity usually occurs in winter. See photo at right. Photo by Dallas Virchow
  • gnaw wiring & tubing,
  • nuisance at bird feeders,
  • gnaw holes in buildings and vents typically 1.5-3.0 inches wide.
  • dig holes in gardens
  • Eat impatience plants (help us improve our list. Tell us of plants squirrels have eaten in your yard).

Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Cut tree branches at least 10 feet away from roof line
  • Wrap tree trunks with 12" (or greater) aluminum flashing at least 6 feet off ground.
  • Screen attic vents from the outside with 1/4" hardware cloth to prevent entry.
  • Cap all chimney flues with professionally manufactured stainless steel caps.
  • Remove or modify all bird feeders.

Frightening Devices

Not effective for the long-term


  • Limited value. Taste repellents can be effective to stop squirrel gnawing on a particular spot.


  • Box/cage traps--minimum size 5x5x20" single door.
  • Rat snap traps
  • #110 conibears
  • Tunnel traps and other specialty traps.



  • .22 calibers and shotguns provide effective methods of population control in areas where safe and legal.


  • None available



  • Gnaw wiring

Legal Issues

  • Fox and Gray squirrels are usually considered game species and have legal protections.


Living With Gray and Fox Squirrels


Publications & Resources



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