Squirrels are familiar to nearly everyone. Over 200 squirrel species live in different parts of the world, with the notable exception of Antarctica and Australia. Squirrels are fascinating creatures; they can leap ten times their body length. These creatures can also turn their ankles 180 degrees to face any direction when climbing. They’ve excellent vision, and they learn by swiftly copying other animals.
They aren’t shy of coming out during the daytime, making them one of the rare wild animals which most of us see. It’s fun to watch a squirrel scampering for nuts or playing around trees.
But, when this mammal starts digging up vegetation, stripping off the bark of trees, and living in the birdfeeders around gardens, it can be a nuisance to the homeowners. Also, squirrels gnaw on the electric wires that can lead to power outages.
So, why exactly is January 21 (National Squirrel Appreciation Day) very popular? Maybe it is because squirrels are gorgeous and incredibly amusing to watch. Or maybe it is the several hats they often wear (not real hats -please do not put some hats on them). What we mean is, they play different roles, such as trickster, bandit, acrobat, gardener, and much more.
We set out to find out why squirrels are worthy of their day, and after you read the interesting facts we found, you might just appreciate these animals a little more. Enjoy!
1. In colder places like the United Kingdom, squirrels plan ahead to survive the challenging winter season. They store seeds and nuts at different locations and return to them throughout the season to maintain their levels of energy when food is scarce.
2. Squirrels are very smart animals. They’re known to elaborate fake food burying shows to deceive the onlookers. The bogus burials are used to trick prospective thieves, such as birds or other squirrels, into thinking that they’ve stored their foodstuff there. Any observers who’re planning on taking that food stock will then focus on the fake burial site, enabling the squirrel to bury the real food elsewhere.
3. They often follow a zigzag pattern to escape predators. When squirrels feel endangered, they run away in a zigzag movement. In fact, this is a highly useful strategy for avoiding hawks and other predators. Unluckily, it does not work very well on vehicles. Consider slowing down and giving squirrels a break!
4. Like many other rodents, the four front teeth of squirrels never stop growing, so they do not wear down from constant gnawing.
5. Squirrels have existed for more than 35 million years. The oldest squirrel fossil found is the Hesperopetes that dates back to the late Eocene era. Among rodents, these were most closely related to the dormouse and the mountain beaver.
6. In 2013, authorities banned camping in the Los Angeles National Forest when they discovered an infected squirrel living there. The infection killed a 15-year-old kid from Kyrgyzstan that he caught from the mountain squirrel. Hundred people had to be quarantined to contain this disease.
7. An arctic ground squirrel (the species of ground squirrel native to the Arctic.) is the only warm-blooded mammal that can withstand body temperatures below freezing while hibernating.
8. Did you know that the name “squirrel” came from the ancient Greek word “Skiouros”? The earliest Greek naturalists did find their brushy tails incredible as the meaning of Skiouros is “shadow tail.” Although they’re often depicted onscreen as beautiful brown chestnut lovers with a huge fluffy tail, the family of Squirrel appears is rather divergent. Some sport white stripes on the back e.g. the Indian Palm Squirrel while others are dark e.g. the Eastern Gray Squirrel.
9. Did you know that there’s a Squirrel only a few inches larger than a standard teacup? The African pygmy squirrel holds the record of being the smallest in the Sciuridae family—that reaches its full height at nearly 10 centimeters only! How about the longest? Probably, the most giant-looking Squirrel is the Alpine Marmot that could size up to a whopping 73 cm.
10. The authorities in the City of Olney offers maximum protection to squirrels. In fact, causing them harm in any manner is illegal. Squirrels are granted right-of-way on all sidewalks as well as streets. Fines for the violation of the squirrel protection laws can go up to $750 per offense.