4 Days of Squirrel Hunting

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A Fox squirrel we found on the WCC campus

My group tried to find squirrels for our citizen science project: Project Squirrel, which can be found here. The goal of Project Squirrel is to find where squirrels live, what they eat, and the kinds of squirrels in an area. The place we chose to search was the WCC campus.

The first day of working we did research about the kinds of squirrels in Michigan. We found that there are four kinds of squirrels in Michigan Fox, Red, Grey, and Flying squirrels. The Fox squirrels or the Sciurus niger are grey/brown with an orange underside and they are 18-27 from nose to tail. The Red squirrel or the Tamiasciurus hudsonicus is a reddish-brown with a whitish underbelly they are 12-15 inches long from head to tail. The Gray squirrel is generally gray but they sometimes have a reddish cast to their coat and they are usually 16-20 inches long. The Gray squirrel or the Scierus carolinensis is less common in Michigan than the Red and Fox squirrels. There are also flying squirrels which are mostly nocturnal so there wasn’t a very good chance of finding them in this study. The information we used about the types of squirrels and their appearance can be found here


Pinecones we found that were chewed up by squirrels

We spent a few days looking for squirrels after doing the research but we were unable to find many squirrels on campus even after searching the two wooded areas on campus and a park like area. In the four days we have looked for the squirrels we have only managed to find the one squirrel in the picture above, but we have seen pinecones that have been opened up so squirrels can eat the seeds inside which suggests there are more squirrels on campus than we have seen. We have also heard squirrel calls which suggests to us that there are squirrels that we couldn’t see in the trees. The time we spent searching for squirrels was between 2 and 3 pm through research we found that this is not a time where squirrels are very active and that might be one of the reasons we didn’t see many squirrels. Also, the days we searched it was mostly cloudy and rained soon after so the squirrels might have been trying to stay near their hide outs. There has also been recent construction and deforestation around the areas we have been searching which might be another reason we have not seen many squirrels on the WCC campus.

We used two methods to search for squirrels the first was to walk around in the woods and cover as much area as we could this has a downside of being loud and may scare some squirrels away. We also tried sitting in one place for 20 minutes at a time trying to be as quiet as possible so the squirrels wouldn’t be bothered by our presence and would come out from hiding. The second method proved to be the most effective.
This data is still useful for Project Squirrel because they want to know where squirrels live, what they eat, and what kinds of squirrels there are. The data we have is that there isn’t much data this means that squirrels have chosen not to inhabit the areas around the WCC campus, perhaps for some of the reasons I have provided above.