5 Fun Squirrel Facts
Squirrels are largely known as cute little nuisances with bushy tails, feisty manners and chattering voices, that are boldly determined to wreak havoc in suburban yards. Every January 21st, we celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day, so if you want to learn more about these adorable chubby-cheeked creatures, check out these nutty squirrel facts!
- Squirrels are mostly beloved mammals of the Rodentia Order. Although these furry beasties are related to mice, guinea pigs, beavers, gerbils and other rodents, they are quite a diverse species on their own, with more than 275 distinct varieties of squirrels found all around the world. These can be as small as pygmy squirrels that weigh just a few ounces up to squirrels of unusual size that weigh several pounds. (Yikes!)
- If you’re wondering where squirrels live, the answer is every continent except for Antarctica. Squirrels are native to all other continents besides Australia. Squirrels were introduced to Australia (along with rabbits and foxes) by English and European immigrants. To dig a bit deeper into natural habitats, tree squirrels live above the ground in wooded areas. Ground squirrels live in burrows, dens, and other sheltered spots underground.
- Squirrels are pretty intelligent and vocal chatterboxes that can recognize other squirrels’ faces as well as humans. Squirrels even have their own language! They communicate through a combination of body language and a series of high-pitched chirps and tail gestures. Squirrels will use their language to trash talk rivals, scare off other squirrels trying to steal their food, alert others of predators, and to attract and romance potential mates.
- Squirrels are skilled at problem-solving, and making and using tools to solve their problem. They learn and improve their skills by studying how other squirrels solve problems, too. If that weren’t enough, when there isn’t an acorn, rock or stick nearby for them to use as a tool—they’ll make their own tools from whatever is handy or even use their tail!
- Squirrels are also quite resourceful when planning ahead, especially when it comes to food. What do squirrels like to eat? Most squirrels are omnivores that forage on nuts and seeds, which is why they love birdfeeders! They’ll also feast on meat, eggs, insects, and even small snakes. Squirrels carefully plan food storage, burying or hiding different nuts and seeds around their territory to rely on to sustain them through leaner winter months. The squirrels can remember where they buried their nuts and seeds for long periods of time because they’ll mark them with their scent before burying them. When it’s time to dig up dinner, they can find their hidden stashes by tracking their scent.
In 2001, National Squirrel Appreciation Day was established in Asheville, North Carolina by wildlife rehabilitation specialist, Christy Hargrove. According to National Today, “Christy created this day to encourage kind attitudes towards our bushy-tailed neighbors by setting out food and water for squirrels, and even allowing them to play with that bird-feeder you normally don’t want them touching.”
As you can see, squirrels are fascinating creatures that play a big part of our world. Want to learn more fascinating facts about squirrels? Check out the following articles!