Both gray and red squirrels are common and abundant in Massachusetts. Gray squirrels are found everywhere, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. However, red squirrels are absent from both islands.
Red squirrels are sometimes called pine squirrels or chickarees. The gray squirrel is also known as the eastern gray squirrel.
Both are members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae), along with flying squirrels, chipmunks, and woodchucks.
Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) are small to medium-sized tree squirrels. Like gray squirrels, the sexes appear similar. They are typically rusty red or reddish brown on the back and white or gray-white on the belly.
The tail is rusty, sometimes tinged with yellow. Melanistic red squirrels are uncommon.
Adults average 10 1/2 -15 inches, with tails averaging 3 1/2 -6 inches. They weigh about 1/2 - 5/8 lbs.
Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) are medium-sized tree-climbing squirrels. The sexes are similar. Adults average 15-20 inches in total length, with the tail averaging 6-9 1/2 inches.
They weigh about 3/4 - 1 1/2 lbs. They are typically grizzled or light gray, with white on the chin, throat, and belly. Melanistic (black) squirrels occur in the north parts of the squirrel's range.
Black squirrels are common in the Westfield area of Massachusetts, and occasionally elsewhere.
Squirrels are an important natural resource in Massachusetts. They are classified as a game species, for which established regulated hunting seasons exist.