This Winter, Celebrate Your Squirrely Friends
The world is full of bird feeders, bird-watching clubs and field guides about our feathered friends. But amid all this colorful plumage, we forget about the furry wonders right under our feet.
Squirrels have never met a bird feeder they couldn’t crack, and these intelligent and inquisitive little critters are quite entertaining — when they’re not making nests in your chimney.
In honor of National Squirrel Appreciation Day, this January 21, we’re celebrating all things squirrely. Consider showing your appreciation by lending your starving, bushy tailed friends a helping paw during the lean winter months. For a nice squirrel snack, place an ear of corn on a tree branch, spread peanut butter on pinecones or donate your stale bread crusts to the woods.
But before you do any of that, check out some fun facts about these mischievous little creatures that will beg, borrow and steal their way into your heart.
1) While preparing for winter, squirrels plant lots of nuts and seeds — aerating lawns and planting trees (sometimes entire forests) in the process.
2) Squirrels can smell food under a foot of snow, and they’ll dig an icy tunnel just to reach their prize.
3) “Squirrel” comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning “shadow tail.”
4) A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing, which is probably why “rodent” comes from the Latin word “rodere,” which means “to gnaw.”
5) Squirrels lose up to 25 percent of their cached food to birds or other squirrels.
6) With over 285 species, squirrels are found on every continent except for Antarctica and Australia.
7) Squirrels run in a zigzag pattern that helps them escape airborne predators.
8) At 4 inches long, the smallest squirrel is the African pygmy squirrel, while the three-foot long Indian giant squirrel is the largest.
9) Squirrels often pretend to bury food to confuse would-be thieves nearby. In the process of “deceptive catching,” a squirrel will deposit a nut before digging it up again.
10) Tree-dwelling squirrels build nests called dreys, which are made from grass, bark, moss, feathers and twigs.
11) Squirrels can run up to 20 miles an hour. They can also jump 20 feet and turn their ankles 180 degrees to climb in any direction.
12) Using their tails as parachutes, squirrels can fall from 100 feet without getting hurt.
13) Most squirrels don’t hibernate, so they horde nuts and acorns for winter.
14) When the Arctic ground squirrel hibernates, its body temperature drops below freezing — the lowest of any living mammal.
15) Squirrels mate from February to May and have two to four litters a year.
16) Squirrels have four sharp toes on their front feet and five toes on their back feet.
17) These hardy rodents can eat their own body weight every week — roughly 1.5 pounds.
18) Squirrels use their tails as signaling devices, twitching to alert other squirrels of potential danger.
19) Considered “living fossils," squirrels haven’t changed much in 37 million years.
20) Some squirrels make mushroom “jerky” for the winter by picking mushrooms and hanging them out to dry on tree branches.
21) Squirrels often adopt abandoned baby squirrels and greet nest-mates by nuzzling and ‘kissing’ at the end of the day.
22) A squirrel could reach the Mississippi River from the shores of the Atlantic without ever touching the ground.
23) Though they can live up to 20 years in captivity, most wild squirrels live less than a year.
24) The squirrel family sciuridae includes ground squirrels, tree squirrels, flying squirrels, marmots, chipmunks and prairie dogs.
25) Grainivores at heart, squirrels will feed on almost anything, including nuts, seeds, fruits, fungi, insects, eggs, snakes, birds, buds, veggies and conifer cones.
Squirrels are a wonder to behold in the wild, but when they dig up your garden, destroy your bird feeders and build nests in your attic, your appreciation may quickly turn to annoyance. If you have an all-out invasion on your hands, call Arrow today and send your squirrely friends packing.