Just for Fun: We're Celebrating Squirrels For Squirrel Appreciation Day!
Today is the 10th Squirrel Appreciation Day so we’re celebrating with some of our favourite facts about squirrels. Check out our favourite facts below, along with our top tips for squirrelling away name labels for labelling emergencies!
Celebrating Squirrels For Squirrel Appreciation Day
- Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family of around 285 species of small and medium rodents. This includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (like groundhogs), and prairie dogs.
- The oldest squirrel fossil dates back 40-35 million years. “Squirrel” comes from skiouros, an Ancient Greek word meaning “shadow-tailed”.
- Least pygmy squirrels measure just 10-14cm long, while Bhutan giant flying squirrels can reach 127cm.
- Tree squirrels descend trees head first. They rotate their ankles 180 degrees so their hind paws point backward and grip from the opposite direction. They are also excellent jumpers; reaching 2.7m horizontally and 1.2m vertically.
- Flying squirrels don’t fly; they spread the patagium (skin) between their limbs and glide, reaching up to 90 metres.
- Squirrels have great senses. Some have peripheral vision (to see around them without moving their head) and some have yellow pigment in their eyes (to filter UV rays and see better in bright daylight). Many have vibrissae (whiskers) on their limbs and their heads. A brilliant sense of smell helps them locate food, while their teeth never stop growing!
- Squirrels “test” their food. They reject hollow acorns and hazelnuts based on weight and recognise ripe nuts by smell.
- Squirrel tails are multifunctional! They keep off wind and rain; provide warmth; help with cooling; provide balance and steering; act as parachutes; and can be used to send signals to other squirrels.
- Ground squirrels and tree squirrels are usually diurnal or crepuscular (active during the day/dusk and dawn), while flying squirrels tend to be nocturnal (active at night).
- In 2019, a biologist accidentally discovered that a flying squirrel glowed bright pink when exposed to a UV flashlight. Further tests found that all three species of North American flying squirrels exhibit the same fluorescence.
- People used squirrels to predict the weather. “Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry, will cause snow to gather in a hurry” suggested that a squirrel seen hurrying to store food meant winter weather was on the way. Unfortunately, squirrels always tend to bury food quickly to prevent their rivals from stealing it!
- The UK has two species of tree squirrel; Eurasian Red and Eastern Gray (or red squirrels and grey squirrels!).
- Red squirrels are slightly smaller (34-43cm long compared to 44-55cm) and have tufts on their ears (and tails).
- Unsurprisingly, red squirrels are usually red (with a white or cream underside) and grey squirrels grey (with a white underside). However, both vary in colour. Red squirrels range from light red to black (while ours are red, Italy has black squirrels). Grey squirrels may have brownish colouring (while some are entirely black or white). This means there are actually grey red squirrels and red grey squirrels!
- Although native to the UK, our current population of red squirrels are mostly descended from Scandanavian squirrels imported to boost numbers. Their early decline was due to habitat change (especially deforestation as farming expanded) and persecution as pests.
- In the 19th century, North American grey squirrels were imported to the UK as curiosities and pets. Many were released and spread rapidly across the country, leading to a 1937 ban on importing or owning the species.
- Sadly, grey squirrels have many advantages that have contributed to the decline of the red squirrel.
- Greys live longer (6 to 12 years, up to 20 in captivity) than reds (3 to 7 years, up to 10 in captivity).
- Grey squirrels have up to 8 kits per litter. Reds only have around 3. Red squirrels are also less likely to breed under pressure; for example, where there are limited resources or high competition for resources.
- Grey squirrels have a wider diet, are better able to digest items like acorns, and can store four times more fat.
- Greys are scatter hoarders and create thousands of caches each season. They retrieve around 80-90% of their caches, relying on scent and spatial memory (recalling landmarks around the cache). Red squirrels are less successful. In fact, many oak trees are the result of forgotten squirrel caches!
- Grey squirrels are highly adaptable and will live in higher population densities (reds prefer to remain solitary).
- Squirrel Pox Virus (SQPV) is found in both species; it is commonly fatal for reds but rarely so for greys.
There are around 2.7 million greys in the UK but just 160,000 reds. Of these, 120,000 are in Scotland, with the rest scattered in pockets across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (like Anglesea, Brownsea Island, Greenfield Forest, Kielder Forest, Formby, and the Isle of Wight).
Prepare For Labelling Emergencies With Your Own Cache (Of Stikins ® Name Labels)
While many parents simply buy the name labels they need, some like to have a stash for last minute emergencies. This could be labelling replacements for outgrown clothing, items missed during initial labelling sessions, or new items that need labelling before they leave home.
You can safely store Stikins ® name labels for future use. We recommend that you keep your name labels in their original packaging. The ideal storage place is somewhere dry, out of directly sunlight, and at a steady room temperature. When stored in this way, your name labels should retain their original quality for up to two years.
Plus, if you choose 90 or 120 name labels, you also get a better price as our larger packs offer a lower cost per label.
We also offer a 10% discount on any order that contains three or more packs. These packs can be all different, all the same, or a mix of the two. The account applies automatically when you order online or by phone.