Fox squirrels and eastern gray squirrels can both do some bark-stripping damage to trees, but usually the severe damage is due to the gray squirrels. Thin barked species such as sycamore, beech, oak, sweet chestnut, pine, larch and Norway spruce are most at risk with trees aged between 10 and 40 years being most vulnerable. So the belief is that they gnaw on bark to cope with the pain. The good news is squirrels generally do not eat enough bark to kill a tree. 1. It’s true that fox squirrels and gray squirrels strip also bark from trees, and so do raccoons, but don’t forget about another forest dweller: the porcupine. Pregnant squirrels strip bark more often than other squirrels. They will peel the bark off of a dying tree." Porcupines also gnaw tree bark, but the teeth marks are larger, and squirrels often leave a pile of bark below the tree, while porcupines consume most of it. Mystery: why do fox squirrels strip bark and kill trees in the southwestern Great Plains? If you see bark striped from a tree, strips hanging from limbs, and perhaps piles of the stripped bark at the base of the tree, you might have seen the work of a hungry porcupine. Bark stripping is a problem in woodland where the squirrel numbers are greater than 5 squirrels per hectare. They seek the tender cambium layer of other trees for food. Squirrels are able to strip hard barks using their incisor teeth which are really designed to cut through wood. The theories about pregnant females and searching for water, are just that, theories. You’ll see patches or strips of damage, or areas of missing bark that are relatively narrow (maybe ½ inch) and about 3 to 6 inches long. This seems to be particularly true in urban areas with pin oak trees and I usually see it as I pass by one large pin oak next to Haggin Hall on my way to work. The twig pruning most often occurs in the fall and causes no real damage. Gnawing in search of food. I see this commonly on post oaks and blackjack oaks. However, their bark stripping habits can … 2. A: According to university and wildlife sources, it's not clearly known why squirrels strip bark from trees, but some believe they might be gnawing for minerals. Little is written on the subject. The width of the strip that they make depends largely on their specie because each specie has varying sizes of incisors. Gnawing to cope with pain. Catalpas also produce seeds, further attracting the pests. The risk of damage may be greatest where there are vulnerable trees next to mature woodland that produces a good seed crop, which in turn supports a high density of squirrels. To squirrels, bark on a tree is like a ribeye steak. However, squirrels have also been seen to strip barks from trees that do not produce masts during spring. They usually chew on trees that have thin bark because it is easier to chew than thicker bark. A: According to university and wildlife sources, it's not clearly known why squirrels strip bark from trees, but some believe they might be gnawing for minerals. They strip bark off certain trees to get to the tender cambium layer, which they eat. When bark is removed from trees, the cambium layer with sugars and nutrients is … Gnawing in search of water. "Perhaps the plant is under stress and the squirrels are after a fungus that grows under the bark. Gray squirrels are reported to strip bark on a wide range of deciduous trees. This theory holds that squirrels are gnawing in search of the inner bark that would satisfy a particular nutritional need. Many of the markings and chipped-away bark seen on Canadian trees comes from squirrels such as the common Eastern Gray Squirrel and Fox Squirrel. Because squirrels do not usually girdle the trunk of the tree, they generally do not cause enough damage to kill a tree. Perhaps a more significant form of the behaviour, however, is so-called ring-barking or girdling, where they chew away a narrow ring of bark tissue from a branch. Bark strips are typically about a half-inch wide and 6 to 12 inches in length. Pregnant squirrels strip bark more often than other squirrels. However, the squirrels in my yard were much hungrier this year as you can see in the featured pictures. Protect individual trees by installing a barrier (Fig. Protect tree bark from being stripped or eaten. Young catalpas have thin bark, which squirrels prefer because it is easier to chew. This activity can have severe, if not fatal consequences, for individual trees chosen for this assault. And yes, they have been known to kill trees. •Threat to native Red Squirrels and other wildlife •They strip the bark from trees. All trees can withstand a little bark removal is they are well established, but stripping bark from the circumference of a limb will cause the limb to die. 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