Time for a little squirrel appreciation. Squirrels usually get a bad name for being annoying food thieves, but they are actually quite smart and more powerful than you think. Before you try to shoo away these little creatures next time you are enjoying a picnic or watching them steal your birdseed, think about all they can accomplish and contribute by educating yourself with these fascinating squirrel facts.
Squirrels love nuts and acorns, it’s a very common image we have of them. Tree squirrels are actually very instrumental when it comes to planting forests. When they squirrel away (no pun intended) their acorns and bury them, sometimes they forget about them or where they put them. Those planted acorns grow into trees which helps keeps the forests alive and thriving. They are the little green keepers that make our forests lush and flourishing. Changes in the squirrel population are studied by scientists to determine the overall health of the ecosystem of a forest. If there is a prominent squirrel population, the forest is thriving and free from excessive logging or fires.
Small and Mighty
If you have twenty minutes or so, there is a delightful squirrel obstacle course video made by Mark Rober. This engineer designed a whole course for his backyard squirrels that tests their agility and brain power. Squirrels can run and jump impressive distances and their bodies are designed for these functions. They are able to fall from tremendous heights and not get injured. They use their fluffy tails as parachutes to slow down their fall and maintain balance. To watch them in action is truly amazing.
When squirrels hibernate in the winter, their body temperature drops below freezing level and blood flow is reduced. There is a reaction in their brains that causes cellular changes helping them adjust to these low temperatures and the blood flow. Scientists, fascinated with this cellular change, are currently creating a drug that mimics this reaction in a human body that would actually help someone suffering from a stroke when blood flow is reduced to the brain, preventing brain cells from dying. This would limit the amount of damage caused by a stroke. Think of these squirrels as little doctoral wonders wandering around and thank them for their contribution to science.
Be Nice, or Else
Think twice before you insult a squirrel. They will take out your internet and power. Squirrels chewing on electrical lines have caused great havoc in history. They even took out the stock market in 1987 and 1994. They are able to do what hackers can’t even do – those are powerful little creatures running from power line to power line. Their incredibly powerful teeth are the cause for this, as their chompers never stop growing. This allows them to chew on rough nuts, acorns, and the occasional electrical wire.
Squirrels are actually very captivating creatures. It’s time to give them credit where credit is due and respect these animals for all that they do. The next time you see a squirrel, say a quick thank you and throw them your leftover pizza crust.