Yes, I am drop dead serious, January 21, is Squirrel Appreciation Day and I’m celebrating it! No, it’s not a gimmick its a for real day set aside to appreciate, celebrate and enjoy our backyard friends. Not only that, it just seems like the day after the Inauguration, Squirrel Appreciation Day is the perfect follow up. I’ve been an avid squirrel watcher for years and enjoy them every bit as much as the birds that visit the squirrel feeders.
Currently we have anywhere from 6-11 regulars that drop in to grab a meal and move through the neighborhood. Most of ours are of the Grey variety and we do get the occasional Black variety come through. Our relatives in the Twin Cities are lucky enough to have a few pure white Albino squirrels.
These two little guys were born this spring and stuck together like this all summer. If one moved, the other moved right alongside. When they stopped to eat they sat shoulder to shoulder. It was interesting to watch their interaction when they were young, chasing each other and actually engaging in their own form of ‘play’. They’ve hung around this winter and still tend to travel together. There’s a lot to learn watching and paying attention to their behavior.
There were years we had up to 16 at the feeder at one time. That was the winter we went through over 300#’s of sunflower seeds and I have no idea how many pounds of peanuts in the shell. All I know is it was either get a part time job to feed the squirrels or discourage them a bit. Not only that, it became a ‘health’ issue with obesity raising its ugly head. I think his BMI is probably around 40.
Actually, that winter we gained a better understanding that an overly generous welfare system wasn’t good for anyone. We were going broke feeding them, more squirrels were crossing our neighbors fence to get to our feeder, the squirrels were getting fatter and spending more time just sitting around in the trees. It actually got to the point when the feeder got empty they got our attention by begging. Sometimes aggressively! I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Facts and Trivia
Consider that squirrels were actually introduced into Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 1847 to ‘brighten’ the city. Think about that for a bit. They actually had to import them into the city environment.
Squirrels are known to bury nuts. Often, they’ll recover them and rebury in a different location supposedly to keep them hidden from their fellow squirrels. About 75% of the time they lose track of them.
There are around 200 varieties of squirrels. They range in size from the Pygmy Squirrel weighing around 0.6 oz all the way up to the Black Giant Squirrel that can weigh up to 3# measuring 3′ in length.
Squirrels (Grays, Reds, etc) eat about 1# of food per week. With sunflower seeds running around $.40/# feeding 10 squirrels is gonna cost about $4/week. Keep that up 7 or 8 months a year….you get the idea.
Squirrels drink about 2-3 table spoons of water a day. Research says squirrels can only survive about 24 hours without food or water. (I know the feeling).
If you feed them, remember, if the food isn’t good for you (sweets, cake, Ice Cream) it’s not good for squirrels. Try nuts, berries, etc to keep them healthy.
Suggestions to Celebrate the Day
So how do we celebrate this day. Here are a couple of suggestions.
- Just spend some time watching and appreciating them for what they are.
- Pay attention to their interaction.
- Enjoy watching them as a distraction from news of the day.
- Just for fun, if you want to redirect a conversation, try saying “Squirrel”. For instance, if you’re engaged in a conversation concerning politics, give it a try. Like, maybe somebody asks you what you think of the new head of the Ministry of Truth … try just saying “Squirrel”.