by Jackie Lebouitz
Hey, did you guys hear the news?
Today marks one of the nation’s more obscure holidays – Squirrel Appreciation Day.
Founded in 2001 by Christy Hargrove of Asheville, North Carolina, the day is meant to celebrate the lovable, furry scamps known as squirrels. Now, you may be surprised to learn that we have an abundance of squirrels on Earlham’s campus. Or maybe not. Either way, the rather large ones with the grey fur and rust underbellies are known as fox squirrels, or Sciurus niger. We here at the Joseph Moore Museum want to express just how much we love these guys, so we put together a list of fun, squirrelly facts. Be sure to share them with your friends the next time you encounter one of the cute, bushy-tailed rodents.
- Fox squirrels are not only the largest species of tree squirrel found in Indiana, but the largest in all of North America. Wow!
- They are generally not very skittish around people, which makes them easy to approach.
- These squirrels can mate any time during the year, and they reproduce in tree cavities.
- They can be seen eating and burying black walnuts (the fruit from Juglans nigra) in the fall.
- Populations have been decreasing due to the local deforestation of old growth habitats.
- They have flexible ankle joints, which allow them to rotate their feet by 180 degrees. This trait allows them to hang from trees and climb upside down.
- Like most other squirrels, they are notorious for raiding bird feeders.
- They build their nests, or “dreys,” out of twigs and leaves, and use them for shelter and to rear their young.
- Females begin to have babies at six months old, and their young are able to properly scale trees just after ten weeks.
- The genus Sciurus stems from the Greek words skia (shadow) and oura (tail) and literally translates to “shadow tail”
So, remember to show your appreciation for squirrels this week by taking pictures, writing poems, or just saying “thank you.”
And just for fun (because that’s what we’re all about), here’s a cool video of a barking fox squirrel.