Eastern Grey Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis

The Eastern Grey Squirrel is not indigenous to South Africa. It was imported from North America to the city of Cape Town, by way of Great Britain, in the late 1890’s. Thankfully it has not spread much further than Cape Town’s suburbs and surrounding towns in the years since, as it relies on the nuts of plants like oaks and pines that also are not found naturally in this country. In addition they’ve been recorded feeding on cultivated fruits from orchards and gardens, fungi, insects and eggs.

Eastern Grey Squirrels are usually encountered alone or as small family groups. They nest in holes in trees or construct their own nests – called dreys – in the forks of branches. While they’re very agile in trees they often forage on the ground. They’re also well known for hoarding food stores by burying it for later consumption. Litters of 1-4 kits are born at anytime of year and leave the nest when they’re about 2 months old. In the wild they may live to about 8 years old, though most die within two years of birth. Adults weigh around 550g and measure between 40 and 50cm in length, of which the tail accounts for roughly half.

One of the very best places to see these critters locally are in the Tokai Plantation, a spacious picnic area managed as part of the Table Mountain National Park.

Cecil John Rhodes, the man responsible for establishing the Eastern Grey Squirrel (and Chaffinch and Common Starling) in South Africa, is a controversial figure. A staunch proponent of British imperialism, he amassed an enormous fortune here at the southern end of Africa. As this isn’t a political blog we won’t delve into his legacy any further, but whether you despise or admire the man you cannot help but be impressed by the magnificent memorial erected for him on the slopes of Devil’s Peak (inside the Table Mountain National Park) in Cape Town after his death at the rather young age of 48 in 1902.


24 thoughts on “Eastern Grey Squirrel

  1. sustainabilitea

    My immediate reaction is one of admiring the cuteness of the squirrel but upon reading, I can see why you’re glad they haven’t spread. So many animals and plants can become pests or worse when brought where they don’t really belong. Then people have to try to figure out how to control them without further upsetting the balance of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. sustainabilitea

        We’re still working our way through the weekend’s 7’s games but the Bokke look pretty good, although they’d be better with Selwyn there. I’m hoping he’s in good health and in LA so I can see him play in person. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. blhphotoblog

    Wish they had never been brought to the UK in the first place!
    They are a serious pest and have decimated the native Red Squirrels by out competing and the deadly (to the Reds) squirrel pox, yet so many people think them as cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wetanddustyroads

    Sjoe, daardie eekhoring het omtrent ‘n parmantige stert! Ek het nie besef Cecil John Rhodes het op so ‘n jong ouderdom gesterf nie (vir die mag wat hy gehad het en die hoeveelheid geld wat hy gemaak het, het ek gedink hy was heelwat ouer)!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. H.J. for avian101

    The gray squirrels used to be my nightmare for the bird feeders, not now in Florida. I’ve seen some , but they don’t bother me anymore. Thank you, D. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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