Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrel Appreciation Day is celebrated on the 21st of January each year.  Christy Wisty founded Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001.  There are no official events scheduled.  However Wisty suggests celebrating by putting out extra food for the squirrels.

Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae.  The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs.  Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia.  The earliest known squirrels date from the Eocene and are most closely related to the mountain beaver and to the dormouse among living species.

Squirrels breed once or twice a year and give birth to a varying number of young after three to six weeks, depending on species.  The young are born naked, toothless, and blind.  In most species of squirrel, only the female looks after the young, which are weaned at around six to ten weeks of age and become sexually mature at the end of their first year.  Ground dwelling species are generally social animals, often living in well-developed colonies, but the tree-dwelling species are more solitary.

Squirrels cannot feed upon cellulose and must rely on foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  In temperate regions, early springs is the hardest time of year for squirrels, because buried nuts begin to sprout and are no longer available for the squirrel to eat, and new food sources have not become available yet.  During these times squirrels rely heavily on the buds of trees.  Squirrels’ diet consists primarily of a wide variety of plant food, including nuts, seeds, conifer cones, fruits, fungi and green vegetation.  However, some squirrels also consume meat, especially when faced with hunger.  Squirrels have been known to eat insets, eggs, small birds, young snakes and smaller rodents.  Indeed, some tropical species have shifted almost entirely to a diet of insects.