25 Fun Facts About Squirrels | Garden’s Unsung Heroes

squirrel on tree trunk
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25 Fun Facts About Squirrels | Garden’s Unsung Heroes

  1. squirrels have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild.
  2. In ancient times, squirrels were popular pets among royalty.
  3. Squirrels have been on Earth for over 35 million years.
  4. Ground squirrels use dirt to clean their teeth.
  5. Some squirrel species are nocturnal.
  6. Squirrels have a communal shared nest called a drey.
  7. Some squirrels use snake skins to mask their scent.
  8. Squirrels can recognize ripe fruits just by the smell.
  1. Squirrels can purr, similar to cats, when content.
  2. Squirrels are known to tap maple trees for sap.
  3. Mother squirrels teach their babies how to bury food.
  4. Squirrels have been observed engaging in deceptive caching to thwart thieves.
  5. Squirrels practice spatial chunking to organize their food caches.
  6. Squirrel whiskers are as sensitive as a cat’s and aid in night navigation.
  7. In urban areas, they can recognize humans who are kind to them.
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1. Squirrels plant thousands of new trees each year, forgetting where they hid their acorns.

We owe a lot of our lush forests to squirrels. These little critters unintentionally play a part in afforestation. 

While they bury acorns to snack on later, they often forget where they’ve hidden them. This forgetfulness results in thousands of new trees sprouting up each year. 

2. Ground squirrels have cheek pouches for carrying food.

Imagine having pockets in your cheeks. Ground squirrels do. They have built-in cheek pouches, and it’s not for fashion. These pouches are super handy for carrying food, especially when they’re stocking up.

They can fill them with nuts and seeds and then transport their stash back to their burrows. It’s nature’s version of a takeaway bag.

3. Baby squirrels are called kittens.

The next time you see a baby squirrel scampering around, remember they’re called kittens. Not only are they adorably named, but these little ones are also wholly dependent on their mothers.

For the first 40 days of their lives, mother squirrels nourish their kittens with only their milk, ensuring they get a strong start in life.

4. Squirrels can eat their body weight in food weekly.

brown squirrel eating nuts
Squirrels eat their own weight.

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Can you imagine eating your body weight in food every week? Sounds wild, right? But for squirrels, it’s just another week. 

These energetic furballs consume their own weight in food within seven days. That’s like an average human eating over 150 pounds of food in a week. 

5. Squirrels can rotate their ankles 180 degrees to climb down trees head-first.

Squirrels have the unique ability to rotate their ankles a whopping 180 degrees. 

This lets them grip the tree bark and safely scamper down head-first, which is pretty handy for a quick escape or just some playful tree shenanigans.

6. Ground squirrels use their tails as umbrellas during hot weather.

When the sun’s blazing and you’re seeking some shade, imagine having a built-in umbrella. Ground squirrels don’t have to imagine they’ve got one.

Their bushy tails are multipurpose tools. Not only do they use them for balance and to assist in long jumps, but on sizzling days, they spread them out overhead like an umbrella for some cool shade. 

7. Squirrels communicate using complex tail signals and vocalizations.

Squirrels aren’t just fluffy and cute they’re pretty talkative too. Well, in their own way. If you’ve ever seen a squirrel flicking its tail and making tiny sounds, that’s their version of texting.

They communicate with each other using intricate tail signals and vocalizations. It’s their way of saying, Hey, danger or this is my territory.

8. Flying squirrels don’t truly fly they glide using a flap of skin.

squirrel on tree branch
Flying squirrels glide, not fly.

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Have you ever heard of a squirrel that can fly? Well, sort of, flying squirrels don’t have wings like birds. Instead, they glide gracefully between trees using a special flap of skin.

It’s like nature gave them their own paraglider. So, they don’t truly fly, but their acrobatics in the air are still pretty awesome. Just one of many fun facts about squirrels.

9. Squirrels have been known to adopt other squirrels’ abandoned babies.

Squirrels have big hearts, figuratively speaking. In times of need, some squirrels have been observed adopting abandoned baby squirrels, raising them as their own.

Can you imagine? Taking in a tiny squirrel that’s not even yours and caring for it? Now, that’s a heartwarming story to add to the collection of fun facts about squirrels.

10. Squirrels pretend to bury a nut to deceive potential thieves.

Ever seen a squirrel acting a bit sneaky? There’s a reason for that. These clever critters sometimes put on a whole performance, pretending to bury a nut.

Why? To trick any watching thieves. They’ll dig a hole, act like they’re putting in a nut, then cover it up, all while keeping the real treat safely in their mouth. 

11. The world’s smallest squirrel is the African pygmy squirrel, measuring around 5 inches.

With so many species of squirrels out there, do you know which one is the tiniest? Meet the African pygmy squirrel. This little guy measures just about 5 inches from nose to tail. 

That’s smaller than many of the toys kids play with. Such a compact cutie is a fantastic addition to the roster of fun facts about squirrels.

12. Squirrels can find food buried beneath a foot of snow.

a squirrel sitting on top of a pile of snow
Squirrels’ snowy treasure hunt.

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Think finding your keys is tough? Try finding an acorn under a foot of snow.ac Squirrels, with their impressive memories and keen sense of smell, can locate and dig up food they buried months ago, even beneath thick blankets of snow. 

It’s like their own version of a winter treasure hunt.

13. A squirrel’s front teeth can grow up to 6 inches per year.

Did you know a squirrel’s chompers are pretty special? Their front teeth can shoot up by a whopping 6 inches in just one year.

These four sharp, chisel-like incisors never take a break and keep on growing. It’s nature’s way of making sure they always have the tools to nibble on nuts and bark.

14. Squirrels sweat through their feet.

If you ever see wet footprints of a squirrel, it’s not because they stepped in the water. Squirrels have a unique way of cooling down they sweat through their feet.

So next time you’re out and about, and you see those little footprints, just imagine a squirrel trying to beat the heat.

15. During mating season, squirrels chase potential partners in high-speed pursuits.

When it’s mating season, squirrels turn into real-life action heroes. They chase potential partners in high-speed pursuits, zipping through trees and leaping from branch to branch.

It’s like nature’s version of an action-packed romance movie, with squirrels in the starring roles.

16. Squirrels’ main diet isn’t just nuts they eat fruits, fungi, and even small insects.

Squirrels are not just nut lovers.

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You might think squirrels are all about nuts, right? But that’s just a small part of the story. These little creatures have a varied menu that includes fruits and fungi.

And guess what? They’re not shy about munching on small insects too. Talk about a balanced diet.

17. Squirrels are spotless animals and groom themselves regularly.

Ever seen a squirrel sitting up and cleaning its fur or taking a sand or dust bath? These natural behaviors are essential for their hygiene and well-being.

They’re not just playing around! Squirrels are super clean animals and spend quite a bit of their day grooming themselves.

These baths help them get rid of parasites and excess oils. They like to look their best, stay tidy, and ensure their fur is in top condition.

18. Squirrels can jump up to 20 times their body length, which is one of the fun facts about Squirrels.

Think of squirrels as the Olympic jumpers of the animal world. These little guys have the power to leap distances that are 20 times their own body length.

So, when a squirrel decides to jump, it’s like watching a tiny rocket zooming through the air.

19. Squirrels have 4 toes on their front feet but 5 on their hind feet.

Fun facts about squirrels never cease to amaze. Here’s a toe-tally cool one these agile creatures have a peculiar toe configuration. 

On their front feet, you’ll count 4 toes. But when they scamper away, you might catch a glimpse of 5 toes on each of their hind feet.

20. A squirrel’s brain grows in size during autumn.

Squirrel on ground
Autumn: Squirrel’s brain-boost season.

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Autumn is a special time, especially if you’re a squirrel. You might love the colorful leaves, but fun facts about squirrels reveal something even more intriguing. 

As this season rolls in, a squirrel’s brain starts to grow in size. It’s like they’re preparing mentally for winter.

21. The largest squirrel species can be over 3 feet long.

Picture a squirrel. You’re probably thinking of those cute, petite critters in the park, right? But hold onto your hats.

The Red And White Flying Squirrel, among other intriguing species, can measure over 3 feet long. It’s almost like bumping into a squirrel version of a basketball player.

22. Some ground squirrels hibernate for 9 months a year.

Now here’s a fun fact about squirrels that might make you envy them a bit. Imagine getting to sleep for most of the year. Some ground squirrels do just that.

They cozy up and hibernate for an astonishing 9 months, only waking when it’s warmer. It’s like the ultimate snooze button.

23. Squirrels can run up to 20 mph.

Ever tried catching a squirrel? Good luck with that. These sprightly critters have some serious speed. Racing around, they can reach speeds of up to 20 mph.

That’s like them having a built-in turbocharger, just for darting around trees and lawns.

24. Squirrels help in propagating mushrooms by spreading their spores.

gray and brown squirrel : fun facts about Squirrels
Squirrels assist in mushroom propagation.

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Fun facts about squirrels bring some unexpected twists, and here’s one that’s truly magical these furry fellows are friends to mushrooms. 

By spreading the spores of these fungi, squirrels play a big role in helping mushrooms propagate. It’s a natural partnership that benefits our forests and adds another layer of wonder to these creatures.

25. There are almost 300 different species of squirrels worldwide.

The world of squirrels is incredibly diverse and vast. It’s not just the bushy-tailed critters we often see in our backyards. 

From snowy regions to tropical forests, there are almost 300 different species of squirrels scattered across the globe. Each with its unique features, habitats, and behaviors. 

FAQs

Generally, squirrels are not dangerous. They’re mostly timid and prefer to keep their distance from humans. However, like any wild animal, if they feel threatened or cornered, they might bite or scratch in self-defense. It’s always best to avoid handling wild squirrels and observe them from a distance.

Most squirrels, especially the common gray and red squirrels, are diurnal, which means they’re active during the day and rest at night. However, some species, like the flying squirrel, are nocturnal and prefer to come out when it’s dark. So, while many squirrels snooze at night, there are exceptions.

While any mammal can theoretically contract rabies, it’s exceedingly rare for squirrels to carry or transmit this disease. In fact, smaller mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, and rats are not frequently found to be infected with rabies.

Squirrels typically have two breeding seasons per year: once in mid-summer and once in the early spring. After a gestation period of about 44 days, a female squirrel gives birth to 2-8 babies, depending on the species. The newborns, called kits or pups, are born blind and rely on their mother’s care for several weeks.

Squirrels sometimes engage in a behavior called dust bathing or sand bathing, where they roll in the dirt. This action helps them to rid their fur of parasites, such as mites and ticks. The fine particles of dirt can suffocate or dislodge these pests. Also, rolling in the dirt can also help mask their scent, making it harder for predators to track them.

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