Don’t you just love when squirrels eat out of your birdfeeders, feasting before the poor birds even get a single seed? Or how about when squirrels find their way into your roof, and nest right above your bedroom? Listening to them scamper all through the night is so soothing!
Ok, so squirrels can be kind of annoying, but how can you be angry at that face? He’s precious! Plus, our ecosystem actually needs them. Squirrels, and their nut-hiding tendencies, have a huge impact on the soil and the plants that use it. When squirrels dig into the Earth, it helps to aerate the soil, keeping plants alive and well. Squirrels have also been known to bury nuts and break branches and stems, adding nutrients to the soil. Not to mention, Squirrels are a little forgetful, and can’t remember all the hiding places for seeds and nuts, which leads to brand new trees! I’m sure the plants appreciate all their hard work, and so do we!
To celebrate Squirrels and National Squirrel Day, we thought you might enjoy some fun facts about squirrels!
- They’re not City Folk
As an effort to bring the joy of nature to city dwellers, squirrels were introduced to major city parks in the ’50s and ’60s.
- They Make Great Friends
Not necessarily for people (they’re not the best, or most trustworthy pets), but definitely to each other. Squirrels communicate with high-pitched sounds to warn each other of danger, and they even use their tails as warnings by twitching them back and forth. And when most ground squirrels see each other, they kiss! (Unsanitary, but charming.)
- They’re Gymnasts
Jumping from tree to tree safely takes some serious acrobatic talent! Squirrels use their big, bushy tails to help with balance, and as a cushion if they lose their footing and fall out of a tree. They come with a built-in safety net—don’t you wish some of your clumsy friends had one of those?
- They’re Diverse
There are over 265 species of squirrel worldwide. They range in size from about 5 inches long (The African pygmy squirrel) to about 3 feet long (the Indian giant squirrel).
- They’re Super Smart
To throw off thieves, squirrels will actually pretend to bury nuts, so that their fake hiding spots are raided and they’re free to bury real nuts without worry. They’re also strategic in escaping predators. They will run away in a zig zag pattern, which is useful in escaping hawks, but not so much cars!
- Their Teeth Never Stop Growing
Like most rodents, squirrels have four front teeth that never stop growing. They grow at a rate of about six inches per year, so they aren’t worn down by constant gnawing.