North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Gray Squirrel

Scientific Name: Sciurus carolinensis
Classification: Small game
Abundance: Abundant

Species Profile (PDF)



The eastern gray squirrel is the most common and frequently observed of North Carolina’s five tree squirrel species. The gray squirrel is found in every county and was adopted as the state mammal in 1969. Gray squirrels are enjoyed by wildlife-watchers and hunters alike, but they can be a nuisance when they cause property damage.

Gray squirrels are diurnal and active year-round. They typically have grayish-brown fur and a whitish belly with a conspicuously bushy tail; however, some individuals can range in color from yellowish-gray to silvery gray depending on the time of year. Though less common, some squirrels may be reddish, black, or white, or some combination of these colors. The gray squirrel is larger than the red squirrel of Western North Carolina and considerably smaller than the eastern fox squirrel. The gray squirrel is easily distinguished from the nocturnal Carolina northern and southern flying squirrels, which are brownish or brownish gray in coloration, have large eyes, and a loose flap of skin between the front and back legs, which allows them to glide through the air.

Squirrels can be considered a nuisance for a variety of reasons. They can enter your home and once inside, squirrels can be noisy neighbors that not only cause structural damage through entry but can also create foul odors, fire hazards (chewing electrical wires), and water damage (chewing water & drain pipes). Squirrels may also feed on garden vegetables, dig up flower bulbs, eat tree crops, dig holes in yards, and consume bird seed from feeders. Learn more by reading our Co-Existing with Squirrels (PDF) document or visit our "Have a Wildlife Problem-Tips for Coexisting with Wildlife" webpages.