Featured Fauna – Pennsylvania’s “Forest Elephants”

In the autumn months, herds of “Forest Elephants” descend onto the leaf-covered forest floors searching for food for the winter. Commonly called “Squirrels,” these mammals make so much noise as they hop on the crispy foliage that they are sometimes given this portly nickname. Actually, it is a poor comparison since real elephants actually walk silently through the woods, but that is a different topic.

In Pennsylvania, we have four main kinds of squirrels. The most common ones are the Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) and the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). The trick to getting a good photo is to have a good telephoto lens and a lot of patience. These squirrels are quite shy until they have had a moment to observe you and evaluate the potential threat.


Typically, I find a group of hickory or oak trees and just sit down and wait. In about 30 minutes or so, the woods will come alive with furry foragers and you will have some great photo opportunities. Below are some of the gray and fox squirrels that I have photographed.

The Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is common in Pennsylvania as well, but I don’t see as many of them in my local parks. The fourth type of squirrel that we have in Pennsylvania is the flying squirrel. I have never seen them in Pennsylvania, but I have photographed them near Decew Falls in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada. My photos are poor quality because I was ill prepared, armed only with a old cell phone camera which had difficulty due to the lighting at dusk.

Here are some of my photos of flying squirrels:


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