There are five types of squirrels in Virginia: Eastern gray squirrels, American red squirrels, Fox squirrels, Southern flying squirrels, and Northern flying squirrels. Three of the five species can be legally hunted during squirrel hunting season.
Squirrels are found all over the world, including in the United States of America. Hawaii is the only state in the US that doesn’t have squirrels.
The difference between states is their law on hunting, keeping, and interacting with these small rodents.
So, why is squirrel hunting permitted in Virginia, where and when can squirrels be hunted and why can only three of the five types of squirrels be hunted?
In this article, we answer these questions about squirrels and squirrel hunting in Virginia.
Types of Squirrels in Virginia
There are five types of squirrels in Virginia:
- Eastern gray squirrels
- American red squirrels
- Fox squirrels
- Southern flying squirrels
- Northern flying squirrels
1. Eastern Gray Squirrels
Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis carolinensis) in Virginia have pale grey to yellowish brown coat fur that is often white-tipped. They have bushy white-tipped grey tails and creamy white fur under their chin, on their belly, and on the insides of their legs.
Gray squirrels are larger than the red squirrel and smaller than the fox squirrel:
- They weigh between 16-18 ounces
- They have a total length of 12-21 inches
There is no difference in size and color between males and females.
Where to Find Eastern Gray Squirrels in Virginia
Gray squirrels are found throughout the southeastern quarter of Virginia in forests, city parks, and suburbs.
2. American Red Squirrels
The red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus loquax) is about half the size of the eastern gray squirrel, making it the smallest tree squirrel in Virginia.
They have reddish-brown fur coats with creamy white undersides and white rings around the eyes. During the winter, their fur is thicker and they grow tufts on their ears.
They have a total length of 11-14 inches and weigh 5-11 ounces.
Where to Find Red Squirrels in Virginia
Red squirrels are found in the central and northern parts of Virginia in coniferous or mixed forests.
3. Fox Squirrels
Virginia’s fox squirrels (Sciurus niger vulpinus) are bigger than gray squirrels but smaller than typical fox squirrels found in other states.
They are larger than the gray squirrel and smaller than the typical niger. Fox squirrels have buff-brown fur with an orangish-brown underside.
The average total length of Virginia specimens is 21.4 – 24.3 inches and the average weight is 26.4 – 33.5 ounces.
Where to Find Fox Squirrels in Virginia
Fox squirrels can be found in most counties west of the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia.
4. Southern Flying Squirrels
The nocturnal southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans volans) is smaller than the northern flying squirrel, and it’s more common in Virginia.
Their total length of 7.7-10 inches and weigh between 1.6-3 ounces. There is no difference in size between male and female squirrels.
Southern flying squirrels have large round black eyes, a velvety gray-brown coat, and a creamy white underside.
They are called flying squirrels because of their ability to glide, using a membrane of skin that extends from the wrist to the ankle to create an airfoil when extended.
Where to Find Southern Flying Squirrels in Virginia
Southern flying squirrels are found in deciduous forests throughout Virginia, with the exclusion of the westernmost tip.
5. Northern Flying Squirrel
Northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) look similar to southern flying squirrels but, are larger, and instead of white underbellies, they have light gray undersides.
Their total length is 11-12 inches and they weigh 4-6.5 ounces.
Where to find Northern Flying Squirrels in Virginia
The endangered northern flying squirrels in the region are known as West Virginia northern flying squirrels (according to the US Federal List).
These are found in Virginia’s coniferous forests in Highland and Montgomery Counties. Small populations have been found at high altitudes in the South of Pennsylvania.
To encourage these squirrels to breed, nesting boxes have been placed in 10 counties of western and southwestern Virginia.
Virginia Squirrel Hunting Season
Virginia’s Squirrel hunting season is open from late summer (September) through fall (October and November) and winter (December through February) and into late spring (early June). Only red squirrels, eastern gray squirrels, and fox squirrels can be hunted.
Virginia boasts nearly 2 million acres of public land open for hunting squirrels during squirrel hunting season.
Squirrel hunters need a state hunting license. In addition to a state hunting license, they need a National Forest permit to hunt on National Forest property and a state forest permit to hunt in Virginia’s state forest land.
Squirrel hunting is not permitted on National Forest land during the spring (June) season.
When Is Virginia’s Squirrel Hunting Season?
Red and gray squirrels can be hunted between 3 September and 28 February. Fox squirrels can be hunted from 3 September until 31 January.
Hunters can catch and kill six gray, red, or fox squirrels daily in hunting season.
|Type of Squirrel in Virginia||Hunting Season|
|Red squirrels||3 September – 28 February|
|Eastern gray squirrels||3 September – 28 February|
|Fox squirrels||3 September – 31 January|
Fox squirrels can only be hunted select areas:
- Counties west of the Blue Ridge
- Counties of Albemarle
- Prince William
Why Is Hunting Squirrel Permitted in Virginia
Squirrel hunting is legal in Virginia because the sale of hunting permits helps support the states’ forest restoration efforts.
Virginia’s state forest land covers about 60,000 acres and is cared for by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and the Department of Forestry.
The DWR the Department of Forestry oversees forest management and wildlife habitat restoration projects.
Red, gray, and fox squirrels are abundant in Virginia. And because they are quick, they are difficult targets to hit. The sport attracts hunters on the lookout for a challenge and the revenue from the issue of hunting permits helps boost the state forest funding.
Flying Squirrels in Virginia
Southern Flying Squirrels are the most common flying squirrels in Virginia. Northern flying squirrels are found in Virginia but have been on the endangered list.
Although we call them “flying” squirrels, they don’t fly but rather glide. They do this by stretching out their arms and legs so that the membrane of skin connecting the squirrels’ wrists to their ankles acts like a built-in parachute.
Flying squirrels can glide across 262.4 feet.
The Conservation of Flying Squirrels
Southern flying squirrels are the most common flying squirrel in Virginia.
The northern flying squirrel in the region, often called West Virginia northern flying squirrels, is less common and was listed as endangered in 1985.
Thanks to efforts to protect and restore Virginia’s red spruce-northern hardwood forest, the northern flying squirrel’s habitat, the squirrel population has recovered.
In 2013 the West Virginia northern flying squirrel was taken off the endangered list.
When Squirrels in Virginia Are Pests
Squirrels are seen as pests when they steal food from pet or bird feeders and nest in attics.
Some people see squirrels as sweet woodland creatures. Some see them as nothing but pesky rodents. The latter is particularly true when squirrels move into homeowners’ attics or steal food from pets and bird feeders.
Squirrels nesting in attics is more than a nuisance. They cause damage by ripping up insulation and creating fire hazards by gnawing through electrical cables.
When people in Virginia complain about squirrels in their attic, it’s most likely flying squirrels that have moved in. They are nocturnal and can be heard rustling around in roof eaves or attics at night.
How To Prevent Squirrels From Moving Into An Attic
Here are tips to prevent and rid roof eaves and attics of squirrels:
- Plug holes into attics or roof eaves with wire mesh or metal sheeting.
- Prue overhanging tree branches close to your home.
- Place a radio and play loud music in the attic to make the squirrels leave.
- Once they have left, plug entryway holes.
How To Prevent Squirrels From Stealing Pet or Bird Food
- Don’t feed dogs and cats outdoors if squirrels are stealing their food.
- Don’t leave pets’ food bowls outside.
- Invest in a “squirrel-proof bird feeder.
- Install a freestanding bird feeder on a metal pole.
- Place the freestanding feeder at least 15 feet from anything squirrels can jump from.
- Add a metal cone that wraps around the pole to deter the squirrels. 
Are There Flying Squirrels in Virginia?
Yes, there are southern and northern flying squirrels in Virginia. Southern flying squirrels are found in deciduous forests throughout Virginia and northern flying squirrels are found in Virginia’s coniferous forests in Highland and Montgomery Counties.