Squirrel Appreciation Day!
Every year on 21st January we celebrate squirrels and show our appreciation for this much maligned species who sometimes inhabit our backyards and parks.
Squirrels are members of the sciuridae family. A family that includes small or medium-sized rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels (including chipmunks and prairie dogs, among others), and flying squirrels.
Squirrel Appreciation Day was founded in 2001 to encourage people to be kinder to them by setting out food and water in their back gardens.
Benefits of Squirrels and Why We Need to Care for Them
They are hugely beneficial to our environment, providing park beautification in urban areas as they are known for planting trees through their forgetfulness when storing away nuts and seeds. These seeds and nuts then grow into plants and trees when the squirrels can’t find them which makes them natures very own gardeners!
Squirrels typically have slender bodies with very long very bushy tails and large eyes. In general, their fur is soft and silky, though much thicker in some species than others. The coat colour of squirrels is highly variable.
Did you know there are different coloured squirrels each adorned with unique characteristics?
The red squirrel, known for its vibrant russet fur, boasts a smaller size and a distinctive tufted ear. In contrast, the grey squirrel, with its sleek silver-grey coat, tends to be larger and dominates many habitats due to its adaptability and competitive edge.
On the other hand, the black squirrel, a colour variant of the grey squirrel, stands out with its striking ebony fur, attributed to a genetic mutation.
While these three species share similarities in their behaviours, such as their arboreal prowess and nut-gathering skills, their varied appearances and territorial preferences add depth to the captivating world of squirrels.
While some squirrel species might not be native to certain regions, it’s essential to recognise their sentience and worth as living beings. Much like humans who relocate to different countries and aren’t ‘native’ to those places, squirrels, though not originally from a specific habitat, still possess intrinsic value and contribute uniquely to their adopted environments.
Check out these 10 Squirrel facts:
- Squirrels are active during the day
Squirrels are diurnal creatures. This means they’re most active during daylight hours, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon.
- Squirrel homes are called “dreys”
The official term for a squirrel’s nest is a drey. Constructed mainly from twigs, these nests are commonly found where tree trunks split into two.
- Their habitat is deciduous woodlands
Squirrels predominantly live among deciduous trees—ones that shed leaves annually. Trees like oak, beech, hazel, and walnut are their favoured habitats due to the nuts and seeds they provide.
- Squirrels play hide-and-seek with their nuts
Renowned for their association with nuts, squirrels gather these in autumn and stash them in underground larders. About a quarter of this stash gets pilfered. To outsmart potential thieves, squirrels often pretend to hide food, aiming to confuse other animals.
- Blind and hairless at birth
Female squirrels birth litters of 3-4 pups up to twice a year. These young are born blind and without hair, maturing into adulthood in about 8 weeks.
- The UK has a lot of squirrels
The UK is home to over 3 million of these creatures.
- Longevity in squirrel years
Compared to most animals, squirrels have relatively long lives. In optimal conditions, they can live for nearly a decade, though many succumb within their first year.
- The rarity of albino squirrels
The most elusive among squirrels is the albino variety. Only around 100 of these rare creatures have been spotted over the years.
- Their teeth never stop growing
Squirrels belong to the rodent family and share traits with mice and rats. Similar to these rodents, a squirrel’s front teeth continue growing throughout their lives.
- Squirrels tune in to bird songs
Finally, squirrels pay attention to bird songs. This behaviour helps them detect potential predators lurking nearby.
Are there any facts that surprise you about squirrels? Or do you have one you can share that I haven’t listed? Have you ever nursed a squirrel back to health?
Want to learn to communicate with animals?
If you are interested in learning how to communicate with animals, join my FREE livestream event this February 2024, Communicate with Animals Workshops & Practice.
Pea Horsley is an international teacher, TEDx speaker and bestselling author of 3 books including ‘Heart to Heart’ and ‘The Animal Communicator’s Guide’, which have been translated into nine languages, online course Animal Communication Made Easy, and creator of the Conversations with Nature World Summit. Pea is the UK’s most highly regarded animal communicator and wild animal retreat facilitator. Join Pea’s membership, The Pride, and be part of a global community listening to a council of animals advising humanity and together forging real transformation.