Why are you called CitiSci(urid)?
CitiSci stands for Citizen Science in City ecosystems. Meanwhile, the scientific name for squirrels (a family level taxonomic grouping) is Sciuridae, based on the latin root Sciurid (pronounced see-yur-id or sigh-yur-id). Altogether, CitiSci(urid) therefore means the city squirrel citizen science project.
Why grey squirrels?
Eastern grey squirrels thrive in cities, making them ideal model organisms for investigations into how wildlife adapt or acclimatize to urban habitats. The historical colonization of these habitats by grey squirrels is also uniquely well documented. Additionally, their prevalence and visibility on the urban landscape makes them particularly well suited for a citizen science endeavour.
Why is this important?
Eastern grey squirrel are amongst the world’s most successful invasive species. Understanding how grey squirrels cope with stressors on the urban landscape may help us to understand what characteristics make them such proficient invaders in novel ecosystems around the world.
Additionally, urban environments are sites of dense human and wildlife cohabitation. Understanding urban wildlife is therefore important not only for managing human-wildlife conflict, but also from a disease risk perspective. However, rather than pose a health risk, tree squirrels in many cases appear to buffer disease transmission, and may be useful as a “disease sentinel” early warning systems, indicating places and times of greater disease risk.
What about the black squirrels?
The black and grey squirrels you see both belong to the same species (eastern grey squirrel, scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis). In fact, there are actually three common colour variants: grey (which have white stomachs), black, and an intermediate blackish-brown colour. These differences are due to genetically inherited differences, similar to the way that people have different hair colours.
I have squirrels in my attic/garage/backyard/car, do you want to trap them?
Unfortunately, we are only interested in squirrels at our study sites.
I’ve found a baby squirrel, what should I do?
Step 1: Check out this handy info graphic by Urban Wildlife Care
Be advised: It is against the law to keep wild animals if you do not have the proper permits and training, regardless of your intent to release them. Leave wildlife rehabilitation to the experts.
To find the wildlife rehab centre nearest to you, check out ontariowildliferesuce.ca