The Delmarva fox squirrel is an endangered subspecies of the fox squirrel of North America. Historically, this large tree squirrel inhabited southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern New Jersey, Maryland, and the Virginia portion of the Delmarva peninsula (Delmarva refers to the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia). Due to habitat loss resulting from logging, agriculture, and urban development, its range has been reduced to parts of the eastern shore of Maryland, one county in Delaware, and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.
The Delmarva fox squirrel is similar in color and appearance to the eastern gray squirrel, but is larger and heavier. It is approximately 30 inches long, including its 15 inch tail, and weighs around three pounds. Its body and tail are a frosty silver-gray, with a white belly. Its most noticeable feature is its unusually full, fluffy tail.
Compared to the eastern gray squirrel, the Delmarva fox squirrel is quiet and shy, and somewhat less active than its smaller cousin. These squirrels inhabit mixed forests of conifer and broadleaf trees with open understory, feeding on nuts from oak, hickory, walnut, sweetgum, and loblolly pine trees. In the summer and early fall they like to eat pine cones, and in the spring, tree buds and flowers, fungi, insects, fruit, and seeds.
Like other tree squirrels, Delmarva fox squirrels make their nests either in cavities in trees, or construct a drey from twigs and leaves in the tree branches.
In 1967, the Delmarva fox squirrel was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. At the time, it inhabited only 10 percent of its former range. Since then, there has been some success made in restoring habitat, and some squirrels have been relocated to parts of the former range. However, the species is still under serious threat from continuing development of its habitat. Global warming presents an additional threat, as some parts of the coastal territory are predicted to be inundated by rising sea levels within the next fifty years.