I don’t know about you but I definitely have a love-hate relationship with squirrels. On one hand, totally cute and entertaining to watch. On the other hand, prone to stealing tomatoes from my garden and causing power outages by chewing wires.
There are two sides to every story though so let’s hear from the squirrel…
A Day in the Life of a Squirrel
Good morning world! I had a fabulous night’s rest high in this tree, snuggled in to my cozy, leafy nest. It was a bit chilly though. Seems like winter is on the way. Guess I’d better get out there and start looking for more nuts.
But first, a stop at this “bird” feeder. Yum, yum! Looks like they refilled it already this morning. I’d better get in there before the birds eat it all.
Alrighty then. That’s better. A few sunflower seeds in my tummy makes it easier to hunt for nuts. I wonder if that oak tree dropped any good ones overnight? I’ve got a bunch of walnuts cached over yonder but my acorn cache is looking a bit light.
Score! Acorns galore! Time to grab a few then hightail it over to the acorn caching department.
Uh oh. Looks like the pesky squirrel from across the yard is watching me. I’d better dig a few decoy holes to throw him off.
Okay, time to look over by the park for more nuts. I’ll have to cross the street to get there. So stressful! I always get about halfway across then a giant car comes barreling towards me. I try to throw it off by dashing back and forth but it just keeps coming right at me! I don’t understand. That trick always works on the hawks and foxes.
Made it. Barely. Mmm. Nice selection of chestnuts over here today. And what’s that? Some nice kid left a few crackers behind. That will make an excellent mid-day snack.
Hmm, maybe I should swing by the old lady’s garden on the way back to my nest. Her tomatoes have been looking mighty nice. I’ve got plenty of time before dark so I can taste a few to find the best one to keep.
Uh oh! Busted! Drop the tomato I have and run for it! Darn. Maybe I can come back tomorrow to get another one. Garden season is winding down now so I won’t have many more chances. I twitch my tail in frustration and chatter angrily down at the old lady from my perch safely above her.
Now I just have to get across the street again to get back to my nest. Or maybe I should follow the power lines instead? Choices, choices.
Almost back. Find a few more yummy nuts to cache for the winter. Oh never mind. These are white acorns. Better eat those now. Hopefully, there will be more red acorns around tomorrow. Those are better in spring.
Stop for a drink in the birdbath. Pause to admire my reflection. I really think my brain is bigger than it was a few months ago. Must be growing to keep track of all these nuts.
Almost sunset. Time to head back to the nest. I’m going to need another good night’s rest before more nut hunting tomorrow!
So many squirrels…
Some people say if you’ve seen one squirrel, you’ve seen them all. Well, that’s just not true at all. There are more than 200 different species of squirrel in the world which are divided into 3 main categories – ground, flying, and tree squirrels.
Other relatives include prairie dogs, chipmunks, and marmots. Grey squirrels are most common in America and are medium-sized (about 15-20 inches long with another 6-9 inches of tail). A squirrel can be found in almost every habitable place except Australia.
Why does the squirrel steal from my garden?
The squirrel is an omnivore and likes to eat many things including nuts, acorns, berries, and flowers. They also eat bark, eggs, insects and occasionally baby birds. And tomatoes of course.
Squirrels eat about 3 ounces of nuts per day. They also store extra food for later. In fact, they often bury more nuts than they will eat. Uneaten nuts become new trees so maybe the extra nut burying is just nature’s way of paying it forward?
Squirrels are very organized
Scientists have studied the squirrels’ foraging and caching behavior. They discovered that squirrels sort their nuts and bury similar ones together. It’s kind of like how we humans store groceries – onions with onions, cereal with cereal, etc. Squirrels put similar nuts together. After all, some days you feel like a chestnut, and some days you don’t! Who wants to go looking for a chestnut in every cache until you find one? A place for everything and everything in its place, says the squirrel.
Buried nuts don’t come with a lock so sometimes squirrels will dig decoy holes to confuse other squirrels and prevent theft. They also periodically dig up buried nuts and rebury them elsewhere.
Why do squirrels insist on playing chicken with cars?
Though it seems hard to believe, the squirrels are not actually trying to get run over by cars. Running in a zig-zag path makes it harder for natural predators to catch them. A car is not a natural predator though and isn’t trying to catch the squirrel for lunch. As drivers, we just want to continue on our way without running anyone over. It does make for a funny commercial concept though to imagine the squirrels doing this on purpose.
No such thing as bad publicity
I discovered this Twitter account last fall when Maine was apparently in the midst of a squirrel population boom (and subsequent squirrel roadkill boom). Haha! Morbid humor but funny all the same.
We all need a little help from our friends
Sometimes squirrels are injured. Rescue centers will rehabilitate the animals then release them back into the wild. Have you ever seen a baby squirrel with milk on its whiskers? Watch this National Geographic video for that and more.
You saw how cute they were, right? Like I said, it’s a love-hate relationship. Though if I’m being honest, it’s mostly love. 😍
Squirrels in the Classroom
I teach a unit on squirrels in my class every fall. I have yet to find a non-fiction book about squirrels that is appropriate for 4 and 5 year-olds. I have several storybooks that I love however. Earl the Squirrel and Those Darn Squirrels are the best. After reading Earl the Squirrel the kids make an Earl to take home – complete with red scarf!
Want to read more books about squirrels?
Check out my squirrel section at Bookshop (affiliate link).
Awesome Squirrel Video
Here’s a trailer for the PBS show, Nature‘s, episode of A Squirrel’s Guide to Success.
While on the PBS site, you can even take a quiz to find out what type of squirrel you are. I’m a chipmunk. 🐿️
Chipmunk— Chipmunks are notorious for stockpiling food for the winter and you follow a similar style of planning and preparedness. You’re the type of squirrel that others can depend on and you enjoy looking ahead to the future.
There’s a squirrel club?
Did you know that there is a Squirrel Lovers Club? I just discovered it myself. I’m not a member but if you’d like to learn more about the club… click here. The club’s mission is to encourage appreciation, kindness, and education in regard to animals, specifically squirrels. Sounds good to me!
(Do you think squirrels are allowed to join too?)
Peapod – the famous squirrel
Did you know Bob Ross had several pet squirrels? The most famous one, Peapod, was seen in several episodes of The Joy of Painting. (And in this fun new book!)
Podcast Episodes About Squirrels
I love to learn by listening to podcasts.
Here’s a fun episode that talks about why squirrels hide their nuts and how they find them again.
99% Invisible podcast always has thoughtful insight into various issues. Check out this episode about the first ever squirrel census in Central Park.
Josh and Chuck are a podcast favorite… check out this Short Stuff episode about squirrels hiding their nuts.
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Another cool animal – the Emu!
Want to read about another interesting animal? How much do you know about emus? Did you know they were involved in a war? Do you know who won that war? Click below to find out!
Another interesting wildlife rescue story
Did you like that video of the squirrel rescue center? I’ve also written about hummingbird rescue.