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Grey squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis
What is this?

Invasive Alien Species of Union concern

Foto: Rolin Verlinde, Vilda photo

NATIVE RANGE: North America

FIRST FINDING IN SLOVENIA: no recorded finings in nature yet

PATHWAYS: escape and release from captivity

POSSIBLE TO FIND: year-round

DESCRIPTION: A large tree squirrel (head-body length 23–28 cm, with a tail of 20–24 cm), with a greyish colour combined with white underparts. The flanks, legs and head may be orangey-red. The tail is bicoloured: with the tail fur having a reddish base and whitish-grey tips. Ear tufts are not present in any season.

HABITAT: Mature deciduous and mixed forests with a high percentage of seed-producing trees. Often also in urban areas, especially city parks.

STATUS: Widespread in the UK and Ireland, established in Italy. Incidental escapes have been recorded in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

SIMILAR SPECIES: The native Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is smaller (head-body length 21–25 cm with a tail of 15–20 cm) and has pronounced ear tufts which may be absent in summer. It is highly variable in colouration, but all morphs have a uniform coloured tail. The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), rarely kept in captivity in Europe, is larger (head-body length 25–37 cm with a tail of 20–33 cm) and usually has yellow to orange underparts and lacks the whitish-grey tips on the tail fur.

SOURCE: Field Guide to Invasive Alien Species in European Forests

NOTE: this species is included in the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern (the Union list) of Regulation (EU) 1143/2014. The species included on the Union list are subject to restrictions and measures set out in the Regulation. These include restrictions on keeping, importing, selling, breeding and growing. Member States are required to take action on pathways of unintentional introduction, to take measures for the early detection and rapid eradication of these species, and to manage species that are already widely spread in their territory.

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