Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Day 24 - Smart Squirrels

Hi all, it's Day 24 and today I have some super smart squirrel facts and photos for you but before that I want to show you a video I found on Youtube that shows how smart they are. This isn't my video and you should be able to see it below but if not use the link :

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) on stump 

Well, there's lots to say about squirrels apart from the fact that they are very agile and good at getting to food: 

  • Their lifespan is 2-5 years
  • Size from 8cm pygmy squirrel to 3 feet Indian giant!
  • 10 g to 8 kg! But most usually weigh about the same as a bar of chocolate or bag of crisps
  • First squirrels recorded as being present since the time of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago in the UK and were the red squirrel but the Victorians introduced the grey in around 1876 which triggered the start of the threat to red.
There is a red Squirrel on that stump somewhere!

  • They communicate through vocalisations and scent marking and also twitch their tale as a signal to others of a threat. If scared they will freeze, then run for cover up at tree to safety, or will lie themselves flat against the tree trunk to blend in.
  • There are over 265 species worldwide. In the UK we have 2, grey and red.
Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)  

  • They are very intelligent. If they think they are being watched they will put on a display to other squirrels or birds by burying their stash of nuts - but they are only pretending! And when the other animal goes to uncover them, the squirrel will then go and hide the real stash. Also very good at accessing seeds and nuts on a bird table! 

  • They run in zigzags to throw off predators.

  • Squirrels plan ahead for the winter and hide nuts and seeds - some have been known to hide up to 2000 nuts in various locations which they remember!

  • They are tree dwelling and live in nests called dreys that are the size of a football high in a tree and lined with moss, feathers eat for warmth. 

  • Squirrels don't actually hibernate but do slow down their activity in winter
  • Can be left handed or right handed - identified when seen eating a pine cone!

  • They have babies called kittens usually twice a year with 3-4 kittens each litter. Born with eyes closed and no hair or teeth but by seven weeks they are tiny versions of their parents and ready to leave home.

  • Reds are less common because they are extremely susceptible to squirrel pox and also aren't as adaptable as they grey and can't eat the same variety of food. Greys can live happily in woods with oak, chestnut trees as well as conifers but red can only live in coniferous woodland. 
Sciurus carolinensis
feeding out of Homo Sapien's hand

  • 75% of reds in Scotland rest are in North Yorks, Northumberland, Wales, Merseyside, Isle of Wight and Cumbria. 

  • Reds were hunted for sport right up until 1927 and that plus disease and changes to habitat have meant their numbers have never recovered. 

  • Despite their name the red can be almost black or very pale brown.

  • Squirrels are very trusting for a wild animal and may eat out of people's hands.

  • Main threat is by birds of prey and pine martins, but even more so cars.

Sciurus carolinensis maximus!
In case you need it, here are some links to other interesting sites about squirrels:

Hope you enjoyed,


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