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Squirrels: Sciurus carlinensis

Appearance:

During late summer squirrels may be seen rolling on the ground, biting themselves, and jumping up and down.  This is usually due to skin irritations from bot fly larvae, which are parasites that appear as bumps on the skin, often in places where the squirrel cannot scratch.  The parasite is located only in the skin and does not affect edibility of the meat in harvested squirrels.

Habitat:

Florida is home to three species of squirrels, the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carlinensis), the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), and the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans).  The most common in urban areas is the eastern gray squirrel. Squirrels occur in woodland and urban areas, especially near oaks and hickories, and are active during the day, often feeding on the ground.

Behavior:

Squirrels can cause problems by chewing on plants, tree bark and ornamentals as well as plastic items, like electrical wiring insulation or even wood siding on houses and out-buildings. It is often impossible or impractical to eliminate the source of their chewing.  Potted plants can often be moved out of reach.  PVC pipes and electrical wires can sometimes be covered with a insulation material that is soft and, therefore, less attractive to chew.

Taste repellents are designed to stop chewing. They seem to work in direct proportion to the animal's desire to chew on the object. In other words, if they want it badly enough, no repellent will stop them.  Taste repellents will not work on large areas, are impractical for inaccessible things like tall trees and cannot be used on objects that you intend to eat.

A landowner may lawfully live-trap or humanely destroy nuisance gray squirrels without a special permit or license. Live-captured nuisance squirrels must be released or euthanized within 24 hours of capture or trap inspection.  In addition, nuisance squirrels may be transported and released at an off-site location that is within the county of capture and a minimum of 40 contiguous acres if the animal is a native species; the releaser has written permission from the owner of the release site; and the transportation of the wildlife does not violate any rabies alert or area quarantine issued by a county health department or county animal service.  Relocating wildlife is seldom biologically sound, the animal often does not survive.

You can receive technical assistance for squirrel problems by contacting your nearest FWC regional office.

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