What animal has the reputation as an acrobat, bandit, gardener and trickster?
That can be seen zigzagging across roads, parks and backyards?
And is celebrated on Jan. 21?
Yes, it’s the squirrel! In honor of National Squirrel Appreciation Day, Western Oregon University has compiled some fun facts about squirrels, WOU’s unofficial mascot.
- Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator affiliated with Western North Carolina Nature Center, created National Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001. She has suggested putting out extra food to learning something new about the species as ways to celebrate squirrels on Jan. 21.
- The word “squirrel” is derived from the Greek word “skiouros,” meaning “
- Squirrels are definitely not shy as they can be seen during the day exploring campus, gathering food and climbing trees.
- Most female squirrels have litters in the spring and the fall. Litter sizes range from one or two to nine or more squirrels. The gestation period is only three to six weeks, and the female squirrel has the sole responsibility for the care of the newly born squirrels, which are helpless until about 10 weeks old.
- There are more than 200 species of squirrels falling into three types: ground, tree and flying squirrels, all of which can be found in Oregon.
- Squirrels use their bushy tails as a way to balance, move quickly from one direction to the next and communicate social signals.
- If they were human, they would never have to worry about going to the dentist. Squirrels’ front teeth
continue to grow because they constantly use them to gnaw their food.
- Leaping from a wire to a tree is an easy task for them because squirrels can leap 10 times their body length and can maneuver their ankles 180 degrees to adjust their bodies to what they are climbing.
- The best reason to appreciate squirrels is for all the work they have done to accidentally plant countless trees in our parks, forests and more. Squirrels often forget where they have buried their nuts, which eventually grow into trees.
Visit WOU Squirrels’ Facebook page.