Animals at the Zoo

Hansel and Gretel – Rescued together in 2021 – unreleasable  as an invasive species.


(sciurus niger)

Highly adaptive, large, North American squirrel.  In most parts of Southern California their upper body is brown/grey with a brown/orange underside.

What do they eat?

Quite varied, but mostly consists of nuts/seeds of trees such as oak, walnut and pine.  They’ll also consume fruits, flowers, sap, fungi; occasionally insects, birds/eggs and dead fish. They are known to store nuts/seeds for the winter months by burying them.  Many of these go unretrieved and end up sprouting into new trees-very important to the environment.

How long do they live?

6-10 years in the wild; up to 18 in captivity.

How many can be born at a time?

2-3 on average.

Where are they found? 

They typically inhabit open woodlands with scattered trees that produce nuts which can be stored over winter.  They are quite widespread but are actually an invasive species in California. They compete with western Grey Squirrels and are able to thrive more successfully around humans.

Interesting facts:
  • They build leaf nests known as Dreys in which to raise their young.

  • Their ankle joints are incredibly flexible – allowing 180 degrees of rotation as they descend or climb trees.