January 21st is a very special day…if you’re a squirrel. It’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day! On this day we celebrate these inquisitive little bushy-tailed rodents. So let’s dig a little deeper into the world of squirrels with some super Safari Ltd® squirrel facts!
- There are nearly 300 species in the squirrel family Sciuridae. This family includes the familiar tree squirrels, such as the gray squirrel and chipmunk, as well as flying squirrels and ground squirrels like the groundhog and prairie dog.
- Flying squirrels don’t actually fly, but instead use a membrane called a patagium to glide from tree to tree. This furry flap stretches from the animal’s wrists to its ankles, and allows the squirrel through the air for nearly 300 feet. Using their arms, legs and tail, they are able to change direction during the course of their glide and even “brake” to slow down before reaching the next tree.
- Squirrels are much more intelligent than they often get credit for. They are capable of learning by watching other animals – and not just other squirrels. They have even been observed waiting for humans to cross a street before attempt to cross themselves, knowing that it decreases the chance of being hit by a vehicle.
- Squirrels communicate with each other using a variety of different sounds that have different meanings. However, it has also been theorized that they can communicate with other animals. Scientists noticed a certain type of ground squirrel would wave its tail in the presence of rattlesnakes. This generates heat in the tail, which can be detected by the snake. Scientists believed this was the squirrel’s way of telling the rattlesnake it was aware of it and would be more difficult to catch and eat. The scientists even built a robotic squirrel to test this hypothesis.
- As many people know, squirrels gather nuts and acorns and bury them for safekeeping. However, they don’t just leave them there until winter time, when food is scarce. They actually repeatedly bury and dig up their “buried treasures”, moving them around to different spots. Why? To stop other squirrels from stealing their stash!
Now that you know some neat squirrel facts, you’re better suited to appreciate them on this officially designated day. But there are plenty more squirrel facts out there! Head over to SafariPedia to learn even more about squirrels and hundreds of other animals.