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In Honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrel Appreciation Day is January 21 and we've got some "nutty" facts about these tenacious little critters you're sure to enjoy.

In the past, Farmers’ Almanac has shared helpful advice about what to do about squirrels—often as pests with tips on how keep them out of your bird feeders. They are also the subject of some popular weather lore sayings about winter. But whether you find them adorable or annoying, there’s no denying that squirrels are fascinating creatures that provide lots of entertainment. Who hasn’t laughed at the videos and images of their Olympic-worthy gymnastics—hanging upside down, swinging from eaves, walking the tightrope on power lines, and outsmarting squirrel-proof feeders—just to get food?

In honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day, January 21, we’ve got some “nutty” facts about these critters that will surely prove they are more than deserving of our appreciation!

As anyone who’s witnessed it knows, squirrels are very agile and can maneuver tight spots to get to food.

8 Nutty Things You Didn’t Know About Squirrels

A groundhog munches on some snacks. Notice the similarities to squirrels?

Squirrels are small mammals that are part of the Sciuridae family that includes chipmunks, groundhogs, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels.

Fun fact: The word “rodent” actually derives from the Latin “rodere,” which means “to gnaw.

2. They Have A Keen Sense of Smell

“Is that food I smell?”

Squirrels rely on their sense of smell to find food. They can even smell food buried under a foot of snow. They’ll dig a tunnel until they find it!

3. They Use Tricks To Confuse The Enemy

“I’ll just pretend I’m burying these nuts…”

Squirrels use a zigzag technique to escape predators (rabbits do this, too). When they are threatened, they run in circles to confuse overhead predators. They have also been known to “fake bury” an acorn —digging an empty hole and then covering it back up—to trick other squirrels that are trying to steal their stash.

4. Baby Squirrels Are Called “Kits” or “Kittens”

A baby squirrel is called a “kit” or “kitten.”

And when they’re newborns, “kittens” are blind, hairless, and are only an inch long.

5. They’re Excellent Climbers

via Giphy

Most squirrels have 4 toes on their front paws and 5 toes on their back paws (it can vary with species), each with very sharp claws. This gives them excellent climbing ability.

6. They Live Longer Than You Might Think

How long do squirrels live? A squirrel’s lifespan varies depending on whether or not they’re in captivity (a whopping 24 years) or out in the wild (6-10 years). Which may surprise some, since they seem to always be darting out in busy traffic.

7. Squirrels Have Great Eyesight

squirrel face looking at camera closeup

Squirrels’ eyes are positioned in a way which allows for excellent peripheral vision. They can see what’s above them and beside them without having to move their heads. This makes sneaking up on them virtually impossible.

8. They Have Their Own Bridge To Safely Cross A Busy Road

The city of Longview, Washington, constructed a rodent-scaled bridge named Nutty Narrows so that squirrels could safely cross the busy road of Olympia Way. In 1963, the 60-foot-wide bridge, made of aluminum and a recycled fire hose, was hoisted over the road between two trees. It cost $1,000 and has saved a lot of squirrels. During the holidays, they add a small Christmas tree with lights to the center of the bridge.

Now that’s squirrel appreciation!

Keep Squirrels Away From Your Carved Pumpkins
Squirrels in Weather Lore
Gray Squirrels: Problems and Solutions

Susan Higgins is the Farmers' Almanac's Web Content Editor & Social Media Manager. She is a freelance writer/editor, copywriter, blogger, and writer of short fiction. Her passions are advertising, cooking, the ocean, libraries, pets & animal welfare, Netflix binges, and finding the perfect book at her local library.

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Linda Quinn

I still despise them!!! Have them run around your attic and see how much you appreciate them! lol

judeandmarj@comcast.

I don’t hate them but my dog goes bananas when they are on the deck feeders! I once had 13 squirrels taken out of the attic, they are thru a wooden vent. We hired someone to get rid of them, promised to let them go “elsewhere” When they came & put have a heart cages, no sooner they left one got caught. Because they were not coming back until the next day, we ourselves let him/her go! Be safe😉

they “ate” thru a wooden vent. My tablet changes in its own!

Sandi Duncan

They certainly can be a nuisance! Especially if they get inside!

Lisa Ennis

This squirel thinks he is a bird.

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