Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Eastern Gray Squirrel - Sciurus carolinensis
Sciuridae Members:
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Photo by: Mark Shields
Distribution In NC, it undoubtedly occurs in all 100 counties, including on the Outer Banks.

Occurs throughout the eastern United States, barely into adjacent Canada. It ranges all the way to the Gulf Coast.
Abundance Abundant statewide, being somewhat less numerous in the mountains, especially so at higher elevations. One of the most widely distributed mammals in the state. Note that the iNaturalist website contains photos for more than half of the state's counties, and the editors have not taken the time to update the map with "Photo" records/documentation unless the county had previously no known records (white on the map).
Seasonal Occurrence Active year-round.
Habitat Most any habitat with mature trees, preferably hardwoods. Wooded parks, wooded residential areas, golf courses, open forests, and medium-growth forests are used, especially where the trees are large/old; favor mesic soil conditions. The favored habitat is a mature oak forest, with hickories and/or beech. Least numerous in dry, upland rocky woods, especially where there are pines; and not as numerous in swamps.
See also Habitat Account for General Oak-Hickory Forests
Behavior Active during the day only. They are most active in the fall, when they can be seen gathering acorns and other nuts; they can be somewhat inactive in very cold weather. Nests are either in a tree cavity, or in a ball of leaves well out on a fairly large limb. The squirrels are often seen on the ground, though they spend most of their time in the trees.
Comments This is, by far, the most often seen mammal in the state, because they frequently live in close association with man and are active by day, in addition to their abundance. Thousands are probably road-killed every day in the state. They are a nuisance at bird feeders in the winter season. They are important for seed dispersal in oaks and beech, as Gray Squirrels bury large quantities of acorns and beech nuts in the ground, for later food consumption.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
subspecies Sciurus carolinensis carolinensis, Sciurus carolinensis pennsylvanicus

S. c. carolinensis occurs over the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, whereas S. c. pennsylvanicus occurs in the mountains.
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.