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Go Nuts for Squirrel Appreciation Day

Go Nuts for Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrels are adventurous and bold, smart, adorable in their antics, adapt to wide ranges of fragmented habitat, drive bird feeders crazy with their raids, play a crucial role in balancing insect populations, spread seeds in forests and fields and now, with the changes of global climate, they are helping scientists understand how nature is adapting.

For all this and more, January 21 has been designated Squirrel Appreciation Day, an idea created by wildlife rehabilitator Christy Hargrove in Asheville, North Carolina.

Hargrove points out that you probably won’t find any events to attend, but you can celebrate by putting food out, or learning something new about squirrels. 

There are more than 300 species of squirrel. In the boreal forests of Canada’s Yukon Territory the red squirrel females are giving their secrets to scientists who are studying females endowing their offspring with genetic changes that may help their species adapt to global warming. 

In 2003, a 10-year study found that female red squirrels were giving birth 18 days earlier than their great-grandmothers did, an average of six days earlier in each generation as temperatures in the region have risen about 4 degrees F during the past three decades. The increase has also lead to an abundance of pine cones that prefer drier climate.

Researchers monitored 664 females, including 325 followed throughout their lifetimes and found that natural selection is at work. Babies born earlier, some in the dead of winter as February ends in the Yukon, will be stronger and there will be less competition for territory adults left vacant the previous winter.

The discovery marked the first documentation of genetic changes in a mammal to climate change.

Red squirrels, about half the size of their plump gray squirrel relatives in the east, living in a vast empire from the northern tree line of Alaska and Canada south through the Rocky Mountains and into mountain peaks of Arizona and Midwest and Appalachian forests, squirrels have been given different names such as piney, barking squirrel, mountain boomer and chickaree for their scolding alarm.

When they’re not busy doing their job in nature, they seem to have a mischievous streak when it comes to human beings. Twice, in 1987 and in 1994, squirrels brought down the NASDAQ stock market, a nationwide network of telephones and computers where some 300 million shares are traded each day. In 1987 a playful squirrel in Trumbull, Conn, shut down the national Association of Securities dealers’ automatic quotation service for 82 minutes, keeping about 20 million shares from being traded. Seven years later, in 1994, a squirrel interrupted trading for 34 minutes by chewing through an electric company’s power line and the stock exchange’s backup power system in Trumbull. 

Visit the National Wildlife Federation for a list of ways you can celebrate squirrels or become a citizen scientist by participating in Project Squirrel. You can also visit Squirrels.org for a handful of information from building squirrel friendly feeders and rescue to humane squirrel control. 

Related Stories: 

Baby Squirrels Rescued from Chimney (VIDEO)

Weekend Fun: Squirrel in Toilet (VIDEO)

Cross-eyed and Cute: Meet Heidi the Opossom (VIDEO)

 

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Photo credit: creative commons

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173 comments

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5:29AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:26PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Hooray for squirrels!

2:51PM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Was once "cautioned" for feeding squirrels in Stanley Park, Vancouver, which is apparently against some law. As a visitor, how was I to know I should resist?

5:00AM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day! On this special day I'd like to honour cute Duke - our wizard squirrel, who features in my children's novel "Magical Ventures of Loli and Lenny."


Check him out at :
http://www.facebook.com/Loli.Lenny

Website: http://www.lolilenny.com/

4:01PM PST on Dec 24, 2011

I feed squirrels and sparrows here in the warm climate of Mexico. They get along pretty well. Squirrels do get into the house from time to time. Once they cut my telephone line and once my internet service. But each time they left a small pile of nuts by the cut wires. Was it compensation?

6:49AM PST on Dec 5, 2011

I love feeding and watching my birds and squirrels. When I first moved into my house, I made a deal with my squirrels--if they wouldn't eat the flower bulbs in my garden I would make sure they were well-fed. I even have a heated bird bath so my birds and squirrels have fresh water all winter long. And the squirrels do not eat my bulbs!

2:18AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

so cute animals :)

9:02AM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Also I love making some peanutbutter for both squirrells and birds. They love it! : )

9:00AM PST on Jan 28, 2011

I do love sqirrels!!! We got bunch of squirells in the backyard, and all kind of birds! And of cvourse, we got possum that comes around looking for foods. We feed them corncob and bird foods. We even feed hummerbirds too. Can not wait for the hummerbirds to return this coming spring!!! God bless all the creatures!!! : )

3:51PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Excellent, I love squirrels!

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