Let’s Learn About Squirrels!!
This week’s critter is one that most everyone has near their home – the squirrel!! There are 3 types of squirrels found in Florida: The Eastern Grey Squirrel, the Southern Fox Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel.
Fun facts about Eastern Grey Squirrels:
They hide food in many locations. They can remember thousands of hiding places! ( remember this fact when you play the “Nuts about Squirrels” game later!). But the seeds and nuts they cannot find grow into trees. One reason to appreciate squirrels!
Their hands are in the shape of a triangle to grab things easier. They build their nests high in trees. They make the nest out of twigs and line the inside with grass. Squirrels are rodents so their teeth grow all the time, so they must chew on things constantly. When a squirrel feels threatened it will run away in a zigzag pattern.
A recent study found that some squirrels collect rattlesnake skin, chew it up and lick their fur. Why? It creates a scent that helps them to hide from predators!
Did you know that people introduced Gray Squirrels to most of our major city parks such as Philadelphia and Boston?
Fun facts about Southern Fox Squirrels:
Fox squirrels have flexible joints at their ankles which helps them to turn their feet at 180 degree angles. This helps them to move down large trees.
Fox squirrels are the largest species of tree squirrels in North America.
Fox Squirrels can free fall 20 feet and land safely on the trunk of a tree.
Fox Squirrels are known for their long bushy tails (about the length of their body) and their strong hind legs.
Fox Squirrels are found in open, fire maintained Long-leaf Pine, Turkey Oak sand hills and flat woods such are found at places like Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Fun Facts about Southern Flying Squirrels:
Most people never see Flying Squirrels because they are nocturnal.
Even though Flying Squirrels call to each other with high pitched “cheeps”, most people cannot hear them.
Flying Squirrels cannot really fly, they glide using flaps of skin between their legs. They can glide up to 160 feet.
Flying Squirrels eat Hickory nuts, acorns, other seeds, insects, lichens, and fungi.
Flying Squirrels have big round eyes to help them to see better at night.
Did you know that some Flying Squirrels actually glow at night?
90% of Flying Squirrels are found in Asia.
FUN Family Squirrel Activities:
Always check with your parents before doing any of these activities!
Observe squirrels at your home or local park.
- What do you see them eating?
- How do they interact with each other?
- What kinds of trees do you see them using?
- Do you see them burying their food or unburying nuts?
“Nuts about Squirrels” (adapted from the Nature Guys Podcast)-
- Get about 10-20 peanuts in the shell (you can use acorns or other large nuts).
- Bury them in different locations in your backyard.
- Wait at least 2 days then try to find the nuts that you buried!
- How many did you find? Did you know that squirrels find 40-80% of the nuts and seeds that they bury? The others often grow as new trees!