Scientific Name: Sciurus niger niger & Sciurus niger vulpinus
Abundance: Locally common (found in blue counties)
Species Profile (PDF)
Fox Squirrel (Photo by: Chuck Bryan)
The fox squirrel is the largest tree squirrel in North Carolina, nearly twice the size of the more common gray squirrel. It lives primarily in mature longleaf pine and open pine-oak forests in the Sandhills and southern Coastal Plain. There is also a more recently established population in the northwestern part of the state, associated with open hardwood forests surrounded by pastureland or other open habitats.
Fox squirrels occur in a variety of color phases. In the Sandhills and Coastal Plain of North Carolina, they are grayish with various patches of black on the head and feet and white patches on the nose, paws and ear tips. Some animals are almost totally black with dark gray patches, and others are reddish or rust colored. Squirrels in the northwestern population typically have a tawny- brown or grizzled-gray color above, with a rusty or pale orange-brown color on the underside, ears, and legs. The top of the head is usually black, and they often have a white nose as well.
Learn more by reading the Fox Squirrel species profile.
The fox squirrel is a game species. Season and bag limits.
Because of their limited distribution, fox squirrels do not typically cause nuisance issues in North Carolina. However, the following document may be helpful when dealing with general squirrel issues.
Co-Exist with Squirrels (PDF)
Visit our "Have a Wildlife Problem-Tips for Coexisting with Wildlife" webpages for more information.
Fox squirrels are a small game species and are considered a trophy by some hunters. They occasionally depredate grain or cornfields for food and may cause some minor damage to crops. Homeowners and developers can improve habitat for fox squirrels by managing property for mature hardwoods and longleaf pines. Management around streams can provide both habitat and travel corridors for fox squirrels, which improve access to preferred habitats.
Deer Hunter Observation Survey Results, 2014-2022 (PDF)
2018-2022 Fox Squirrel Hunting and Harvest Estimate Maps (PDF)
2010-2021 Fox Squirrel Harvest and Hunter Trends (PDF)
Fox squirrel species profile (PDF)
Co-Existing with Squirrels (PDF)