Fox squirrel Waterton

A fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) reaches for a red berry on a sunny afternoon in Waterton Canyon National Recreation Area near Littleton, Colorado.

By: Dawn Wilson

This week’s featured animal is the fox squirrel. Although more prevalent in communities along the Front Range, the fox squirrel can be seen in Estes Park but not typically in Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are a few more fun facts about this busy little animal.

Fox squirrel Alamosa

A fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) stands up to see if she will get a handout at a park in Alamosa, Colorado.

1. Colorado is home to three tree squirrels: fox, Abert’s and pine.

2. The fox squirrel is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America.

Black squirrel

A black fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) sits on a branch of a cottonwood tree on a sunny day in Longmont, Colorado

3. Similar in appearance to the eastern gray squirrel, with a gray upper body and big, bushy tail, the fox squirrel can be identified by its brownish-orange underside. The fox squirrel may also be seen in a full black coat, but this color variation is more prevalent in lower-elevation towns along the Front Range.

Fox squirrel Sloans

A fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) leaps through the snow at a park in Denver, Colorado

4. Eastern Colorado is on the western edge of the fox squirrel’s natural range. They have also been introduced in other western states, like California, Oregon and Montana.

Fox squirrel Ketring

A fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) looks up above the grass while sitting in the shade of a tree at Ketring Park in Littleton, Colorado.

5. Fox squirrels are diurnal (active during the day) and spend much of their time foraging for food on the ground. They are, however, agile climbers and build caches of food for later consumption. Shelled foods, like nuts, are preferred for storage because they do not spoil as quickly as non-shelled foods.

Dawn Wilson is a professional and award-winning nature photographer who lives in Estes Park year-round. You can see more of her work, join one of her Rocky tours, and purchase prints and calendars at or follow her on Instagram:


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