Squirrels are adorable little creatures that are found around us, in parks, gardens, woods, and even on trees. Did you know squirrels can leap 10 times their body length and can even turn their ankles 180 degrees to face any direction while climbing?
They are amazing creatures having superb vision, and learning by quickly copying other animals.
Let’s discover why squirrels are worthy of their own day and gather some informative knowledge about them by going through these facts!
21 Interesting Facts About Squirrels
This article intends to provide 21 most distinctive and fascinating facts relating to squirrels mainly focusing on their nature, behavior, characteristics, movements along with some additional informative facts.
1. What Is a Group of Squirrels Called?
A group of squirrels is generally called a “dray” or a “scurry”.
A “dray” is mainly the collective of a mother squirrel and her young ones or a family of squirrels, whereas, a group of unrelated squirrels is called a “scurry”.
Since most of the squirrels aren’t social, they tend to stay solitary and usually don’t stay in groups, except while raising their children. The only exceptions are the Prairie dogs, who make their own interlinking tunnels.
2. Do Squirrels Remember Humans?
Yes! There are numerous well-documented and narrated instances of squirrels remembering human beings.
According to a recent study in the U.S, which is summarized by the Harvard Gazette, it was projected that squirrels have outstanding memory which spans over how they are able to cover up nuts and remember the places they hid them.
It was also said in this research that these animals have a great chance of remembering and having knowledge about persons that have fed them food in the past.
Since they are extremely intelligent and have brilliant memory, they tend to remember humans.
Some wild squirrels are even trained to remember that certain people can be safe and also a trusted source of food.
3. Why do Dogs hate Squirrels?
Dogs generally tend to chase and hate squirrels basically because of their own animal instinct to hunt and also because of the squirrel’s scent.
Dogs love to hunt like their ancestors, the wolves, which is their primary instinct and thus desires to go after small animals like a squirrel and thinks it to be his reward when he is able to catch it! This accounts to be a part of the reason dogs hate them.
Moreover, dogs have a strong sense of smell that helps them to detect small and concentrated smells.
A squirrel’s scent is quite powerful and strong to a dog that irritates him. Although different breeds of dogs react differently.
For example, Beagles become more distracted by squirrel’s scent, but certain other breeds have a low sense of smell and would definitely not choose to chase it even if the dog hates the squirrel.
4. Why do Squirrels lay Flat?
Squirrels lay flat predominantly for three main reasons: to rest, to cool down its body temperature and as a strategic plan to defend itself from dangerous predators.
Squirrels lay flat on their stomach when they rest so that the posture provides them with some additional protection from predators while they sleep.
By resting it’s body on a cooler surface, a squirrel transfers it’s body heat to the surface to stay cool during summers.
Also, this posture helps to cover and hide the more vulnerable body parts of a squirrel and helps the squirrel to hide and protect itself from dangerous predators and survive.
5. Do Squirrels’ tails grow back?
No! A squirrels’ tail doesn’t grow back once it loses it.
A squirrel loses its tail in the midst of trees in the forest or sometimes fighting a predator. Tail of a squirrel helps it in many ways like balancing, lowering body temperature, as a protective organ, and hiding in the woods.
Once it loses its tail, it is not possible to grow back again. The chemicals present in a tail of a squirrel that support the development and advancement in the squirrel’s life cycle don’t allow the slowed-down tail to develop once more.
6. Can You Domesticate a Squirrel?
Squirrels may live in your backyard or neighborhood, but as a general rule, squirrels aren’t domesticated and aren’t good animals to keep as pets.
Squirrels are fun to watch play around but they can really be painful to handle at times. Even though, if a pet squirrel is desired, it should be obtained at its infancy and only if they need you to care.
Nowadays it is illegal to keep a squirrel as a pet in many states. Animal experts also believe that it is a good thing because squirrels are wild animals and despite their cuteness, they should remain in the wild.
7. What not to feed Squirrels?
There are numerous numbers of food items that are toxic and unhealthy for squirrels. Toxic foods that are poisonous to squirrels and should be completely avoided are Avocado skin or pits and Fruit pits or seeds.
Some of the Unhealthy foods that won’t necessarily cause lasting harm to squirrels but should still be limited and avoided include High-sugar foods such as candies, cookies, breakfast cereals.
Also, High-starch foods such as pasta, bread, rice, or potatoes, Salty foods, Human junk food, Cashews, Sunflower seeds, Dried corn, Pine nuts, and Peanuts are not healthy food options for squirrels.
8. Are Squirrels Friendly?
Squirrels are generally friendly creatures.
Although squirrels are wild animals, they often trust people easily and many of them are habituated to living near human beings.
Some squirrels are even trained by people to make the squirrels accustomed to humans. Some squirrels even eat directly from the people’s palms.
9. Are Squirrels Edible?
YES! Squirrels are edible and offer lots of proteins and other important vitamins.
Like many other small mammals, eating squirrels have always been prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in places where they are found in abundance.
A squirrel’s meat tastes somewhat like a wild rabbit, but is more delicate, and has a slight sweetness. Its flavor can thus be described as a hybrid of rabbit and chicken, but sweeter with a bit more firm texture.
It contains more protein than that is found in chicken or beef. It’s also a good source of vitamin B6, iron, vitamin B12, and niacin. But, it has high cholesterol that is not suitable for individuals with heart conditions.
10. How do Squirrels climb trees?
A squirrel’s sharp claws and flexible ankles allows it to climb a tree easily.
A squirrel digs his needle like nails into a tree limb so that he can get a strong grip and can climb both upwards and downwards or even cling to a tree trunk.
They are blessed to have swiveling ankle joints that allow them to rotate their feet 180 degrees and climb or hang on trees in various positions. This adaptive flexibility of squirrels assists them to climb on or off trees comfortably.
11. Why don’t Squirrels get Electrocuted on Power lines?
Squirrels don’t get electrocuted on power lines because they are poor conductors of electricity and a difference in electrical potential is essential for electricity flow.
The cells and tissues of squirrels offer stronger resistance to the flow of electricity than copper wire, since electricity flows through the easiest path with minimum resistance, electricity doesn’t flow through the squirrel’s body and thus the squirrel gets bypassed.
Secondly, electricity flows when there is a difference in electrical potential. Electricity flowing through a single power line will thus continue along the path of least resistance since there’s no potential difference and bypass the squirrel.
However, there’s a possibility of squirrels getting electrocuted if the squirrel touches the ground or another power line with different electrical potential.
12. How do Squirrels carry their Babies?
Squirrels generally carry their fallen or displaced babies by the scruff back to the nest.
The mother squirrel is always ready to rescue her babies whenever they are threatened either by a fall or a change in the nest. She takes the babies one by one by her mouth and simply carries them from one place to another.
13. How long can a Squirrel live without food or water?
Squirrels can generally survive for 5 to 8 days without food but water is their daily requirement.
Their survival also depends on their location and environment. Although, without water squirrels are not supposed to be alive for a long time. A maximum period of 8 days is assumed for their survival without food.
14. Where do Squirrels go during a Hurricane?
During a hurricane, squirrels hide and tend to take shelter in the hollows of trees that are strong enough and some underground burrows.
At the time of these dangerous conditions, squirrels suffer from lack of food supply and destruction of their nests. Still they manage to survive by quickly resorting to hide inside a safer place like that of a strong tree.
15. How far do Squirrels travel for food?
Squirrels can travel 1 to 2 miles in search of food supplements.
They can literally travel everywhere and sometimes to far off places when they are in search of food supplements. Still their distance of travel seldom crosses the mark of 5 miles.
16. What does it mean when a Squirrel stares at you?
When a squirrel stares at you, it simply means that he is trying to keep himself safe and understand the happenings of the surroundings.
Squirrels stare at humans for many reasons including determining whether the person is a threat to him or not, out of curiosity.
They also stare at humans to keep an eye on the surroundings and sensing the person’s presence. Also, another surprising reason is you may feel them staring at you while they are napping. Yes! It’s true! Squirrels are mammals that tend to sleep with their eyes open.
17. How to tell if a Squirrel is Pregnant?
The major signs to tell if a squirrel is pregnant include the squirrel’s weight gain, swollen nipples, big belly in some cases and a change in their nature like staying close to her nest most of the time.
Squirrel’s gestation period is usually very short, around 25 to 45 days which makes it harder to correctly point out if a squirrel is pregnant or not.
It is generally believed that only specialized personnel can resolve the question. But some of these above-mentioned signs can definitely be helpful in determining a squirrel’s pregnancy too.
18. Do Squirrels throw things?
No, squirrels generally cannot throw things.
Although they have limbs that are capable of doing all sorts of jobs, throwing things is however something that these little creatures are unable to do.
They may drop things perfectly when they get startled but they are not capable of throwing things.
19. Why do you never see Baby Squirrels?
The answer is simple. We never see baby squirrels because they don’t leave their nests until they are full grown, fully furred and are capable of surviving on their own.
Baby squirrels are born blind and naked therefore they stay inside their nests for upto six months, since they are not yet capable of making perfect moves. They leave their nest once they learn a few moves and become able to survive on their own.
20. What animals kill Squirrels?
Predators that eat squirrels include:
- Aerial Predators like Hawks, Eagles, Harriers, etc,
- Mammalian Predators like Foxes, Coyotes, Weasels, etc,
- Reptilian Predators such as Rattlesnakes, Bull snakes, etc,
- Parasites like Flesh Flies.
There are a number of predators that feed on squirrels. The red tailed hawk is one of the most common predators that targets and attacks squirrels.
Some other predators are Weasels, coyotes, badgers, foxes, and bobcats. In the case of reptiles, the rattlesnake frequently attacks baby squirrels.
21. Why do Squirrels move so fast?
Squirrels can move so fast because they have a very small ‘mass to muscle ratio’ and have many fast-twitch muscles that allows them to do quick aerobic exercises in a short period of time and short distance.
Their low body weight is easier to move thus allowing them to move faster. Their body muscles also facilitate quick movement. An average squirrel can run at a speed of 20 mph to 32 kph because of these two primary factors.
Therefore, there are numerous facts, some amazing and fascinating while others informative and interesting, about these small-sized, adorably cute creatures, that majority of people tend not to know.
National Squirrel Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on 21st January to encourage people to learn whatever they can about these creatures and acknowledge the role played by them in nature and the environment.
Their natural instinct, unpredictable characteristics along with their living methodology are discussed in this article. They are unique and interesting in their own ways and thus deserve to be well appreciated.