Believe It Or Not–Squirrels Are Most Watched Animal!

SECOND only to songbirds,squirrels are the most fed and observed animals.

The Gray Squirrel is the most common squirrel in North America. Its habit of gathering and storing food for the winter has allowed the species to survive for more than 35 million years. Their teeth are constantly growing to compensate for wear, so squirrels keep them “filed down” by constantly chewing. They even grind their teeth while they are sleeping!

And contrary to the opinion of some birders, a squirrel’s stomach is not a bottomless pit. They need about a pound of food per week and enjoy a varied diet of bugs, nuts, fruit and seeds.

Ecologically, squirrels are important re-seeders of trees and woodland plants, busily burying their stash of nuts and seeds in preparation for winter. A squirrel can hide as many as 10,000 nuts each fall and can find his buried food under as much as a foot of winter snow. Some of these nuts and seeds are not retrieved and grow into plants in the spring.

Squirrels’ winter survival is dependent on remembering where he has deposited his caches. And what’s fascinating is that the portion of his brain that controls memory actually grows by 15% in fall; so squirrels really do remember where they stored all those nuts–and where your bird feeders are. Even though there is no sure way to squirrel-proof your bird feeder, we have some suggestions we hope will be useful.

Baby squirrels weigh approximately one ounce at birth and are only about an inch long. They do not have hair or teeth and are virtually blind for six to eight weeks.

A common misconception about squirrels is that they hibernate during the winter. While true that squirrels are rarely seen during extreme cold, this is because they remain near their nest where it is warm. An interesting fact about squirrels is that the adult male squirrel is the cleanest member of the rodent family. It should also be said that the male does not play a role in raising the young. This may explain why they have more time for cleanliness.

Squirrels can jump a distance of up to 20 ft. They have long, muscular hind legs and short front legs that work together to aid in leaping. The hind legs of squirrels are double-jointed. This helps them run up and down trees quickly.

A male squirrel can smell a female in heat up to a mile away. Mating season is February through May with a 44-day gestation period. Typically 2 to 4 young are born per litter. Squirrels have 5 toes on their back feet and 4 toes on their front. Their front toes are very sharp and help in gripping tree bark for climbing.

In addition to residing in the Eastern U.S., Eastern Gray Squirrels can be found in many Western states, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa. Squirrels in general are found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

Squirrels can eat their own body weight every week. Squirrels can fall up to 100 ft. without hurting themselves. They’ll use their tail both for balance and as a parachute. The word “squirrel” means “shadow tail” in Greek. The hibernating Arctic Ground Squirrel is the only warm-blooded mammal able to withstand body temperatures below freezing. Squirrels eyes are positioned in such a way that they can see some things behind them. –Duncraft