While you may not want a family of squirrels living in your home, you can’t deny these little creatures are entertaining to watch. From acrobat to bandit, gardener, trickster, and more, squirrels play a variety of roles in nature. To give you a deeper sense of squirrel appreciation, here are 10 facts you may not know about them:
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1. They can find food under a foot of snow
Squirrels love their snacks, and they are willing to work hard to find them. In the winter months especially, food can be scarce and staying sufficiently fed is crucial to these little creatures’ survival. Luckily, squirrels are skilled when it comes to tracking the scent of food, even if buried under a foot of snow. Once located, they will dig a tunnel to recover their buried treasure – or that of another. Rest assured that come shine or snow, squirrels will always find a way.
2. A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing
While not specific to squirrels alone, they are one of several types of rodent that have ever-growing front teeth. To keep them at an efficient length, squirrels must gnaw regularly to wear down the bone. So, a squirrel chomping on a nut or a piece of bark is akin to their regular dental checkup, therefore, don’t be surprised if a gnawing squirrel brings your next dentist appointment to mind.
3. There are thieves amongst squirrels
It’s common for a squirrel to lose 25 per cent of their buried food to other squirrels. Even more of their food is lost if you consider other species (i.e., birds). Despite their great ability to bury immense amounts of food, they have a difficult time keeping track of all their hiding spots. Unfortunately, many other animals jump at the opportunity of a free meal courtesy of a squirrel.
4. Great proponents of the zigzag method
If they feel threatened, squirrels will run in a zigzag fashion to evade their predators. While this method is highly effective against many types of predators, especially hawks and other birds, it’s not the best strategy when facing cars. So, if a squirrel crosses your path, ease off the brakes and give the squirrel a chance – only if safe to do so of course.
5. May throw off potential thieves with pretend nut burials
Remember above when we called squirrels tricksters? These clever creatures have been known to engage in “deceptive caching,” where they dig a hole and cover it up, without actually burying a nut in its wake. This appearance of stashing food away is done to throw off potential thieves and is the ultimate case of squirrel trickery.
6. Newborn squirrels are only an inch long
When squirrels are born, they’re about an inch in length and one ounce in weight. They’re also completely deaf, blind, naked (meaning they have no fur to keep them warm) and are completely dependent on their mothers for protection. Once they reach seven to ten weeks of age, their mothers will start the weaning process, waiting until they’re fully independent before letting them loose in the wild. And since squirrel mothers are fiercely protective of their young, they’ll stay close by for quite some time to ensure their young are safe.
7. Grey squirrels were imported into Stanley Park
In 1910, the Vancouver Park Board decided they wanted to diversify Stanley Park with some new species. This included the aesthetically pleasing grey squirrel. While the park was already home to a large population of Douglas squirrels, they didn’t bring the desired look the board wanted to achieve – harsh, I know. So, they imported eight fox squirrels and twelve eastern grey squirrels into BC and now, the grey squirrel population has expanded so greatly, they’ve begun to displace the native species.
8. They bulk in the winter
Who knew that squirrels were the original gym rat? To stay warm in the winter, squirrels put on as much extra weight as they can. This increased body weight acts as a great insulator to help them survive our harsh Canadian winters.
9. Squirrels lose majority of the nuts they bury
To avoid losing track of their buried nuts, scientists have observed squirrels burying and reburying the same nut to keep a fresh memory of its location. Sadly, this isn’t always effective, as squirrels fail to recover up to 74 per cent of the nuts they bury. However, our tree population thrives off squirrels misplacing majority of their buried acorns, giving us another reason to appreciate these nutty creatures.
10. Squirrels can be removed safely and effectively with pest control in Vancouver
Have you been hearing noises in your ceiling or attic? Maybe you’ve heard the rustle of little paws from your vent systems or loud scratching overhead. If so, you may have a squirrel infestation. While it’s unsettling to think of rodents taking coverage in your home, these fascinating creatures should be removed with minimal harm inflicted. Therefore, our team at Atlas Pest and Wildlife Control can not only resolve your squirrel problem humanely, but we can also prevent reoccurrences. Contact our team today for a thorough squirrel inspection!