Turning gray


Gray squirrels are, of course, gray — that’s how they got their name — but did you ever notice that in the summer they’re actually rather brown?

From March through June gray squirrels molt into a brown or tawny pelage that blends well with their summertime surroundings.  Then in September and October they molt again, this time into paler, grayer winter coats so they’re ready when the cold winds blow.  My backyard squirrels are making this change but their faces and ears are still brown. 

Lately I’ve seen the squirrels on frequent caching expeditions up and down the street because my neighbor has a prolific black walnut tree.  I’m sure the squirrels are burying walnuts but I only see evidence that they’re eating them.  They leave behind little piles of broken shells and a permanent black stain on the cement.

I wish they wouldn’t pick my front steps for their walnut feasts but I can understand their urgency. 

Winter’s coming.  It’s enough to turn a squirrel’s hair gray.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons.  Click the photo to see the original.)

10 thoughts on “Turning gray

  1. I think a lot of animals change color with the seasons….deer in the summer are more orange brown, and in the winter more of a tan-brown (this is really noticeable if you can see them from a distance crossing a field). And my horses would change color also, getting more brown in the winter and lighter (with redish or gold overtones in cases), in the summer.

  2. Boy learn something everyday. We have about 3-4 squirrels who keep trying to finish off the nuts in the beech tree but I think they have all fallen & of course there are shells everywhere.

  3. It wasn’t a huge color change, but definitely enough to be noticeable. I’m sure that part of it was the fact that their winter hair is a lot longer than the summer hair, and the colors appear duller in the winter.

  4. I have seen some very black squirrels lately. What about them? Are they still gray squirrels or are they a different animal?

  5. Oh good! I have been meaning to look them up. I just saw the black one again today, same place. I really enjoy your blogs!

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