Humans are no strangers to squirrels, as human and squirrel habitats largely overlap. This means that just about every American has spotted wild squirrels more times than can be counted. So, if anyone claimed to have spotted a two foot tall squirrel in the wild, any American would certainly dismiss such a claim as pure fiction. However, state wildlife officials in North Carolina have recently spotted a two foot tall squirrel, and they even posted photographic evidence online to back up this claim.
The photos that recently surfaced on Facebook showing a squirrel that is estimated to be 26 inches in length has many people in disbelief. However, the animal in the photos is not a typical squirrel; instead, the animal is a rarely seen fox squirrel that is known for being at least twice the size of the more abundant grey squirrel species that is often spotted in urban areas of North Carolina. Unlike common squirrels, fox squirrels only dwell within regions that are not inhabited by humans. Fox squirrels in North Carolina dwell within the dense pine forests located in the southeastern portion of the state. Fox squirrels are almost never spotted by humans, but occasional sightings have been documented in the state’s sandhills and Coastal Plain.
Fox squirrels are so rare, that even biologists are largely ignorant of their natural behaviors and native habitat distribution within North America. In fact, hunters have had more exposure to the animals than researchers. However, this is beginning to change, as biologists are now beginning to understand this animal’s cryptic nature through a recently implemented camera-trap program. This program sees hundreds of cameras capturing footage of fox squirrels within the most remote areas of all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The fox squirrel is a solitary animal that is not known for biting humans.
Have you ever encountered a fox squirrel in the wild?