It’s time to put squirrels in the spotlight. January 21st marks Squirrel Appreciation Day, an opportunity to plan some squirrel-friendly activities to celebrate the bushtail creatures in your neighborhood.
Although some people find them bothersome, squirrels are actually incredible creatures that are good for the environment. Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist Christy Hargrove started National Squirrel Appreciation Day in Asheville, North Carolina in 2001. The idea was to encourage people to show kindness to the creatures.
You can celebrate the day by ditching nuts for your local squirrels, dressing up your pets as squirrels, or just watching some fun squirrel videos.
Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the rodents on this year’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day, courtesy of National Today, Britannica, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF):
Your front teeth won’t stop growing
One of the things that make squirrels so adorable is their cute front teeth. According to the NWF, these tiny teeth don’t stop growing, just like they do with other rodents like mice, hamsters, gerbils, and beavers.
The rodents’ incisors also have no roots. To prevent their teeth from growing into their brain, they gnaw and grind their teeth on hard objects to keep them short and sharp, Michigan State University explained.
Squirrels are forgetful thieves
Squirrels love to bury their precious nuts, dig them up, and rebury them again so other nut-loving squirrels don’t easily steal their stash. This is because squirrels can lose up to 25% of their nuts to thieves. Sometimes squirrels even pretend to be digging a hole, but they don’t put the nut there at all. This is intended to confuse potential thieves, the NWF said.
However, this can create other problems as squirrels often forget where they buried their stash. In the end, they can’t recover 74% of the nuts they bury. Instead, they leave some of the buried nuts completely in the ground itself and end up with other squirrels’ nuts.
Thanks to their forgetfulness, many of the nuts that they buried (and that were not stolen) germinate in the ground and grow into trees. In this way, squirrels “accidentally” added countless trees to forests.
Squirrels can be fierce too
Yes, squirrels are cute and can be kept as pets. But the furry creatures can also be pretty fierce.
Although most tree squirrels eat hard nuts, fruits, insects, and sometimes nectar and bird eggs, there are some species of Sciurus that can kill and eat other animals, including mice, rabbits, adult birds, and even other squirrels.
However, this behavior is considered rare.
Squirrels are good treasure hunters
Squirrels are actually pretty good at hunting for buried food, especially in winter when food is scarce. Some species of squirrel can smell food even buried under a foot of snow.
The people brought them to the cities
There are many people who find squirrels a nuisance in our cities and neighborhoods. But did you know that humans were actually the ones who brought squirrels to cities?
Squirrels were not present in cities in the United States until the mid-19th century. In 1847, squirrels were introduced to Franklin Square in Philadelphia. A few years later they were taken to Boston and New Haven and other parts. Well, these creatures are a natural part of cities.