Creature Feature: Facts About Squirrels
It's not terribly often that the average person comes face to face with a possum, skunk, or raccoon, but there's one critter we're all used to seeing often: the squirrel.
These gymnastic creatures scurry up and down our trees, dash across our rooftops, and sometimes come right up to us at the park if we happen to be eating a sandwich. Their iconic bushy tails can flick up and down, while their fur ranges in color from dark gray to light brown (except for the rare, but occasional, albino).
For those interested in learning more about this seemingly ubiquitous critter, here is a complete squirrel profile.
There are upwards of 265 different species of squirrels spanning the globe! (Notably, there are no squirrels in Australia.) The many species of squirrel are generally broken down into three different groups: tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels.
The tiniest squirrel, the African pygmy, is only five inches long, while the largest, the Indian giant squirrel, is THREE FEET long. It would be a terrifying day, indeed, if one of those went dashing across your gutter.
In North America, the most commonly encountered squirrels are the gray squirrel, the red squirrel, the flying squirrel, and the fox squirrel.
When you think about the squirrel's diet, you probably imagine the little guy shoving his cheeks full of acorns. That's fairly accurate! A squirrel's food pyramid is taken up by fruit, bark, nuts, seeds, buds, leaves, bulbs, and insects.
Because they do not hibernate, squirrels must make sure they have enough food to get them through the winter. When they find food they don't need for immediate nourishment, squirrels will store it away for this purpose, a habit that's called “caching” or “hoarding”. This practice is the reason the squirrel is the Native American symbol for preparation and thriftiness.
Squirrels store their food in shallow holes they dig in the ground and cover up. Unfortunately, they don't always remember where their caches are! Forgotten caches of nuts and seeds will sometimes spring up into new shrubs when the weather turns warm.
Squirrels are born during two parts of the year: early spring and late summer. A mother squirrel can give birth to anywhere from three to eight offspring, depending on the species. The babies are completely blind and will be dependent on their mothers for two to three months.
Squirrels have a language all their own, communicating with each other through a variety of vocal sounds, including clicking and whistling. They also use their tails to to talk to each other, twitching them to alert other squirrels to potential danger.
Signs of a Squirrel Infestation
If there are squirrels in your home, it shouldn't be difficult to tell. They're incredibly noisy! You would hear them during their periods of peak activity – early morning and late afternoon – scuttling around in your attic, the most common place they up residence.
Other signs of a squirrel infestation include damage to insulation, since squirrels like to burrow underneath it and build their nests.
The best way to deal with a squirrel infestation is to determine how the squirrels are entering the house and complete exclusion repairs to block off these entry points. This job is best left to professionals, however, since you'll need to ensure there are no squirrels in the home before closing off the way out.
AAA Pest & Wildlife performs first-rate exclusion repairs, so if you have squirrels in the house, call us up and we'll see them out! In the meantime, we hope you've enjoyed this exploration of squirrels.
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