Welcome to the Southern California Squirrel Survey!

I’m Jim Dines, a mammalogist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. My colleague, Miguel Ordeñana, and I established this project to improve what is known about the distribution of squirrels in southern California. Your contributed observations will help!

Did you know that the eastern fox squirrels commonly observed in southern California are not native to the area? As their common name implies, these tree squirrels were introduced from the eastern United States about 100 years ago. We’re interested in tracking the expansion of this introduced species, but we also hope to gain valuable insight into what is happening when the introduced eastern fox squirrel comes into contact with the native western gray squirrel. Both are large bushy-tailed tree squirrels but you can tell them apart by their color: eastern gray squirrels have reddish-brown fur and are commonly seen in urban and suburban neighborhoods; western gray squirrels have silver-gray fur and live in the forested areas of our mountains and foothills.

We’re also interested in observations of other squirrel species in southern California. The northern flying squirrel is a small brown-gray nocturnal species found in the conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains. The lodgepole chipmunk and Merriam’s chipmunk can be difficult to tell apart, but both can be found in parts of southern California. There are also several ground squirrel species that occur in southern California: the California ground squirrel, the antelope ground squirrel, the round-tailed ground squirrel, and the Mojave ground squirrel.

We welcome photo submissions of all the above species, but we hope you’ll tell us more about your observations. Was the squirrel vocalizing, eating, or interacting with another animal? In what kind of habitat was it seen? The more detailed the observation, the better. Thanks for participating!

Posted by jdines jdines, September 18, 2013 22:24


Hi Jim,

Please contact me. sharon.reevelamesa@gmail.com

I believe Eastern Squirrels just moved into our area in La Mesa. If they are non-native I am not happy about that. We never had squirrels of any kind before and I saw one on the deck today. I do not feed the birds or anything. I hope you can shed some light on what species I am seeing. Thanks, Sharon

Posted by chezron over 7 years ago (Flag)

Hi, Great project! I am a volunteer for the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum in Central CA Coast. Last year a Museum Monarch Docent observed an Eastern Fox Squirrel eating adult monarchs! Curious, with your squirrel knowledge - what you think about that behavior. Thanks for your citizen science work.
best, elayne

Posted by elayne_a about 4 years ago (Flag)

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