Bringing It Home

The Mid-Atlantic region doesn't have any burrowing owls like the ones in "Hoot," but it does have a cute, unique and endangered creature that is getting special protection: the Delmarva fox squirrel.

The Delmarva fox squirrel is bigger and heavier than the common gray squirrel found in your back yard: A fox squirrel can grow to three pounds and 30 inches altogether, compared with up to 11/2 pounds and 20 inches for the gray squirrel. Delmarva fox squirrels live more on the ground than the gray squirrels.

However, fox squirrels -- which get their name from their bushy tales -- are shy and hard to find. Instead of running, jumping and chattering about, they tend to meander quietly. Once common on the Delmarva Peninsula(which includes parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia), the fox squirrels now occur naturally in fewer than half of the peninsula's 14 counties. Early settlers cleared a lot of the peninsula's forests for farmland and timber, and even ate the squirrels. As the forests continued to disappear, so did the squirrels, and they landed on the Endangered Species List in 1967. State and federal officials hope the species will recover.

You might be able to spot a Delmarva fox squirrel at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Maryland; or Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Accomack County, Virginia. Check out www.dnr.state.md.us/naturalresource/fall2003/squirrel.html.

The road through the Everglades has "Panther Crossing" signs.