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National Squirrel Appreciation Day

National Squirrel Appreciation Day

Originally a creation by Christy Hargrove, National Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21 is a day to learn about and celebrate the world’s cutest rodents. Here’s the thing about squirrels: some people hate them and say that they’re an “invasive species.” But can those people leap across a space ten times the length of their body? Didn’t think so. 

History Of National Squirrel Appreciation Day

In 2001, wildlife rehabilitation specialist, Christy Hargrove, founded National Squirrel Appreciation Day in Asheville, North Carolina. Christy created this day to encourage kind attitudes towards our bushy-tailed neighbours by setting out food and water for squirrels and even allowing them to play with that bird feeder you normally don’t want them touching. We might look at squirrels as an unnecessary nuisance, but their existence is actually beneficial to the environment, and in urban areas, it assists in park beautification. Albeit by accident, squirrels plant seeds (initially meaning to store away nuts to return when they’re hungry) which eventually grow into trees, thus assisting with forest renewal. They’re nature’s gardeners!

Up until the mid-19th century, squirrels weren’t present in American cities. To have squirrels in the middle of urban areas, you’d need to transform the landscape by planting trees and building parks. You also needed to change the way people behaved by discouraging them from shooting squirrels and encouraging them to start feeding the animals instead. 

The first documented introduction occurred in Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 1847. Boston and New Haven followed suit and brought in squirrels a few years later, in 1850. The squirrel experiment had ended by the 1860s when many squirrels had either passed or were killed amid concerns that they would disturb birds and lead to insect problems. But releases began again in the 1870s, this time on a larger scale as expansive parks were built in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, and other major cities, providing a welcoming habitat for squirrels to live and thrive. 

National Squirrel Appreciation Day Timeline

1847

Human Introduction

Squirrels are introduced to parks in small numbers to beautify and add interest.

1959

‘Hokey Smokes!’

Rocket J. ‘Rocky’ Squirrel, the plucky flying squirrel, is introduced to The Bullwinkle Show and lasts five years as the best friend and ally of the Western moose, Bullwinkle.

1993

Skippy and Slappy

Aunt and nephew Animaniacs duo Skippy and Slappy Squirrel take over television screens with their animated segment. 

2001

A Day Is Squirrelled

Christy Hargrove coins National Squirrel Day and says you can make of it what you want, as long as it’s in the name of squirrel positivity!

National Squirrel Appreciation Day Stats

25% of nuts are stolen
An interesting quirk about grey squirrels is not that they bury their nuts, but they’ll often repeatedly dig those nuts up and then rebury them somewhere else. Why go through all this trouble, you ask? Apparently, squirrels can lose as much as 25% of their cached nuts to thieves! And the largest perpetrator of such crimes is other squirrels, specifically other grey squirrels. So by burying, digging up, and then reburying their food supply, squirrels ensure the safety of their nuts and throw off nosey thieves following their trail.
74% of buried nuts are never recovered
With all this burying, digging up, and reburying, you’d think squirrels have such a great memory of finding their nuts continuously. But squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury. And most of the nuts they dig up are nuts they steal from other squirrels! So what happens to the nuts they forget, and their squirrel buddies can’t find? Well, the grey squirrel’s forgetfulness helps reforestation, as the nuts, they could not find for the winter begin to sprout in the spring and grow into giant trees over time. The further a squirrel reburies their cache, the more tree growth spreads, which is great for the environment.
200 squirrel species
According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), there are over 200 squirrels categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels. These three categories are further broken down into many other squirrel types, such as Albino, Mountain Tree, Antelope, Spotted, Gray, American Red, Douglas, Fox, Pygmy, Northern Flying, Souther, Arizona Gray, Idaho, Arctic Ground, Albert’s, Franklin, Richardson, Rock, White, and Black. The smallest squirrel species is the African Pygmy, measuring about 5 inches in length and 0.6 ounces in weight. The largest squirrel is the giant black squirrel, which can weigh up to 3 pounds and reach a length of around 3 feet from head to tail.

National Squirrel Appreciation Day Faqs

Is there a squirrel day?
There is! Celebrate the bushy-tailed cuties during National Squirrel Appreciation Day every year on January 21.

National Squirrel Appreciation Day Activities

  1. Build a squirrel obstacle course
  2. Help squirrels celebrate the day by building the most imaginative obstacle course for your neighbourhood squirrels, film them tackling it, and post it for tips and feedback online. Accompanied by the Mission Impossible theme, this is a good way to appreciate the squirrel in your life.
  3. Dress your dog up as a squirrel
  4. One of the best things about squirrels is that you can dress your dog up as one and then take a load of pictures of your dog, and everyone will love your dog more and love squirrels more.
  5. Say the word “squirrel” a lot
  6. Not all words carry quite the delight of this one, which for some reason seems to capture the beloved animal’s rapid, eager balance and wiliness. In Scrabble, the word scores 17 points, and that’s if you don’t happen to capture any triple word scores, but perhaps the most delightful thing about it is to repeat it, over and over, perhaps altering the pitch, cadence, and volume, until you either crack up laughing or simply crack up. Do you know why? Ask Christy Hargrove. Because as Christy Hargrove said, you can do with this day what you want.

Why We Love National Squirrel Appreciation Day

  1. It got bigger than anyone ever thought
  2. When Christy Hargrove started National Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001, she didn’t think it would be a big deal. Christy Hargrove said people should do whatever they think is right to celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day. Maybe put something on Twitter with a hashtag, wrote Christy Hargrove, on the Internet, about National Squirrel Appreciation Day. Little did she know what a success this day would become in just a few short years. A bit like the humans who introduced small numbers of squirrels to America’s parks in the 1850s to make them look a little more interesting.
  3. It celebrates the squirrel’s cunning and duplicity
  4. As you know, squirrels bury nuts. But did you know that they often will only pretend to bury those nuts in a fake move because they know they’re being watched? Sometimes, squirrels will pretend to bury a nut, walk away, and then return to it as many as five times, removing it and putting it somewhere else until they’re certain they aren’t being watched.
  5. Three words: Squirrel obstacle courses
  6. If ever there was an animal with more tenacity in its pursuit of food, we do not know of it. A quick Internet search for “squirrel obstacle courses” will yield some amazing videos. There’s something delightful and deeply inspiring about watching these beautiful creatures use their tails for balance in searching out and devouring, or storing, nuts.

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