My Encounter with a Delmarva Fox Squirrel

Delmarva fox squirrel sitting in tree while holding a nut in the early morning of late fall at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

December 27, 2021

Delmarva Fox Squirrel Facts

Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) with nut in mouth climbing a tree on a late fall morning along the wildlife drive at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

The Delmarva fox squirrel is a subspecies of the fox squirrel. However, the Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) is native to the Delmarva Region of the Eastern United States. The Delmarva Peninsula Region includes the Eastern Shores of Virginia and Maryland and the state of Delaware.

The physical description of the Delmarva fox squirrel is silver-grayish coat with a white belly and short, rounded ears with long, fluffy tail with streaks of black. This fox squirrel is a large squirrel that can grow to be 30 inches long, while its fluffy tail can reach 15 inches in length.

Habitat

Delmarva fox squirrels prefer mature wooded areas or forests that are quiet. They favor the hardwood and pine trees with underbrush surrounding the trees. Also, this squirrel may often be found near farm fields and by groves of trees that are near water. This underbrush is essential cover for this fox squirrel successfully feeding on nuts and seeds. These nuts may come from trees such oaks, hickories, sweet gum, walnut, and loblolly pine. The nuts are an especially important part of the this fox squirrel’s diet during the fall season when these trees are dispersing with their seeds.

My Encounter with a Delmarva Fox Squirrel

On the weekend before Winter Solstice this year, I went to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Chincoteague NWR was the place that I took my very first wildlife images back in the early 1990’s and a place I have frequented over the years. However, it has been about ten years since I was last at Chincoteague NWR. I was very excited to be back at Chincoteague NWR and photographing the wildlife.

On this particular morning, while my spouse and I were driving along the Wildlife Drive from the Tom’s Cove area, we saw this big gray squirrel cross the road in front of us. Of course, I popped out of the car with my DSLR and Sigma 150-6oomm and started walking slowly along the side of the road. I found this large squirrel sitting on this tree branch with a large nut in its mouth. The moment I looked and saw this squirrel through my camera’s view finder, I knew it was a Delmarva fox squirrel.

Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) sitting in tree with a nut in mouth along the Wildlife Drive on an early autmn morning at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

I had always been on the lookout for seeing one as I knew the Delmarva fox squirrel sighting was a possibility for every trip I had made to Chincoteague NWR. But, this last trip was the first time I was able to photograph this beautiful native species to the Delmarva Peninsula. I was able to get about 5 minutes with this Delmarva fox squirrel before the squirrel scampered away by quickly climbing higher in the tree and then jumping onto another tree. Quickly, the squirrel was gone and out of my sight. And just like that, my encounter with a Delmarva fox squirrel was over.

Conservation Status

Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) holding a nut in hands while sitting in a tree along the Wildlife Drive at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

The Delmarva fox squirrel was once on the Endangered Species List as a subspecies of the fox squirrel. However, fox squirrels were removed from that list in 2015. One of the biggest efforts to save this species was to restore their habitat, which still continues today, to make sure that the Delmarva fox squirrel continues to thrive.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of November 17, 2015, there were about 20,000 Delmarva fox squirrels living in the Delmarva Peninsula Region.

Thank you for reading my Field Notes Blog, and I hope you will share this post with others.

Let’s protect our wildlife and nature!

All the very best,

Lori

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