Jan 21, 2020
Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day – a day founded in 2001 to raise awareness of the difficulty these common critters face finding food this time of year. The gray squirrel – the most prevalent squirrel in the United States – doesn’t hibernate in winter, so they rely on dwindling stores of acorns and other nuts to sustain them until spring.
Squirrels were introduced into U.S. parks in the mid-1800s. Before that, they were only seen in wooded areas. People were so amused by these furry creatures that a movement took hold to fill U.S. parks with them. The squirrels in Washington, D.C.’s National Mall were part of a 1901 campaign to “increase the attractiveness of the park.” Today, they are a fact of life in yards and cities from coast to coast.
While some may see squirrels as a nuisance, they are beloved by many. In Brevard, NC, they love their white squirrels – a result of an overturned carnival truck – so much they have a research institute and a two-day festival every year in their honor! One Kensington, MD, neighborhood’s listserv was alight with news of a white squirrel sighting this fall, with neighbors tracking its whereabouts and trying to capture the critter on camera.
At this time of year, the pressures of finding a mate (winter is mating season for squirrels) lead to fights between male squirrels and difficulty finding time to search for food. We can help by setting up a squirrel feeding station in our yards.
Wild Bird Centers offers squirrel-friendly products that provide a place for them to eat and hours of enjoyment. Squirrels’ tail-flicking, chattering and aerial antics will keep the whole family entertained.
Squirrels are one of the only wild mammals many people regularly see, so keeping them happy and healthy is in everyone’s best interest!
· Squirrels don’t always remember where they stored their food for winter; these abandoned seeds and nuts often take root, establishing new plant communities and ecosystems.
· There are over 265 species of squirrel worldwide. The smallest, the African pygmy squirrel, is tiny at around four inches long. The largest is the Indian giant squirrel – a massive three feet long.
· The U.S. is host to five species: fox, gray, red, flying and ground.
· Squirrels’ front teeth NEVER stop growing!
· Squirrels are very acrobatic, intelligent and adaptable, and run in zigzag to escape predators.
· The squirrel is the Native American symbol for preparation, trust and thriftiness.