Godwin and Rick Hamrick, MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and
Two game species of squirrels occur
within Mississippi, the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus
carolinensis) and the fox squirrel (S. niger). The
gray squirrel is also referred to as the "cat squirrel" due to
its cat-like call. The fox squirrel is often called the "red
squirrel" which leads to some confusion since there is a true "red
squirrel" (Tamiasciurus sp.) found in the northeastern and
western states. The southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys
volans) is more active at night and is not a
The gray squirrel has a head and body
approximately 8 to 10 inches in length and generally weighs just
over 1 pound. They are normally grayish in color, although albino
and black specimens do occur. Most black squirrels in Mississippi
are fox squirrels, although black gray squirrels are relatively
common in some local areas of northern states.
The fox squirrel is significantly
larger than the gray squirrel, with adults weighing approximately
2.5 pounds and the head and body length reaching 10 to 15 inches.
Two subspecies of fox squirrels are commonly found in Mississippi.
The "hill country fox squirrel" (S. n. bachmani) is found
in suitable, upland habitats across much of Mississippi and is
characterized by a black mast and white nose, ears and paws. In
general, the hill country fox squirrel populations are declining
due to changes in land use and management. The "Delta fox squirrel"
(S. n. subauratus) is found in the western portion of the
state, primarily within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The Delta
fox squirrel has 2 common color phases: one is a glossy black phase
and the other is a reddish phase that lacks the white appendage
coloration found on the hill country fox squirrel.