The Gray Squirrel is Not a Native New Yorker

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gray squirrels may seem like they've always been in New York City, but they're actually a fairly recent immigrant. Etienne Benson, Assistant Professor in the department of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, explains why the rodents were introduced into cities at the end of the 19th century. His paper “The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States” is in the Journal of American History.


Etienne Benson
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [9]

The Squirrel Lover's Club

For Marjorie from Ocean Grove, NJ

You need to find where they are coming into your attic and secure it correctly. Hope this helps...

Dec. 12 2013 09:11 PM
Marjorie from Ocean Grove, NJ

Since I am right now paying a Trapper over $1,000 to get rid of the squirrels in my attic, and since, at any given moment I can spot 6-8 squirrels in my field of vision, it makes me long for the days when they were scarce. In NJ, they are PROTECTED!!!

Dec. 12 2013 01:50 PM


Are they protected?

I saw a fur coat at the Museum of Native American Art in Anchorage and am thinking how many squirrels it may take to make one...

Dec. 12 2013 01:30 PM
Estelle from Brooklyn

The squirrels that bother me are the ones in my attic. No joke. I would trap them and release them in the park except that I'm afraid that some babies might be left behind.

Dec. 12 2013 01:28 PM
Molly from Brooklyn

My dad is and avid outdoorsman from Arkansas and when he goes camping in the mountains of California (where he lives now) he catches and eats squirrels! He makes squirrel tacos. Maybe this is the solution to the squirrel overpopulation problem in NYC. JK

Dec. 12 2013 01:28 PM
Margaret from Queens

Squirrels in New York parks where they are fed are quite friendly. In Union Square they will come right up and beg. If you hold out a nut, most will take them right from your fingers. When there were book stalls there (bring those back!) one of the vendors fed them. A squirrel would come up, walk by the book, and stand before him waiting for a nut, which would be provided. By the bye, Leonard, squirrels hate daffodil bulbs. Plant those.

Dec. 12 2013 01:27 PM
John from Vermont

I would not have believed this if I didn't see it with my own eyes. I was feeding a flock of birds (wrens?) in Central Park. A squirrel was lurking around the edge of the flock, then it pounced on a bird, chewed its head off, and proceeded to eats its brain, like a walnut.

Dec. 12 2013 01:24 PM
Linda Griggs from LES

I wondered about this after we went to Paris and saw no squirrels. I just assumed major western cities had squirrels.
We also kept seeing Parisian ham on the menu and decided that was what they called squirrel in France.

Dec. 12 2013 01:04 PM
antonio from baySide

In London the squirrels are red, and get pretty darn close to you; That surprised me when I was there.
Why are our squirrels not as bold? Haven't they been here as long as we have?

Dec. 12 2013 12:05 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.