Jan. 21 is “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” That's right - a day dedicated to those cute furry creatures that are opportunists and will clean out your bird feeders or get in your attic.
They are also known to bolt in front of cars, causing drivers to swerve and sometimes wreck in an effort to avoid the cute but pesky little critters.
Even though this will be the 13th year the rodents are honored, the day is still not well known. There is, however, a FaceBook event for the day.
Here are some fun facts about the family Sciuridae which encompasses a large group from the five-inch African pygmy squirrel to the three-foot Indian giant squirrel:
- A group of squirrels is called a "scurry" or "dray."
- They have four front teeth that grow continuously, at a rate of about six inches per year and they can gnaw through just about anything. Last September, more than 3,000 Northern Virginians lost power because one "curious" squirrel got into substation equipment and caused a transformer to blow.
- They communicate by making shrill sounds.
- The tail is also used for communication, but its primary function is for balance by enabling them to dart around quickly without falling. Should they step amiss, the tail is also used as a parachute when they fall and a cushion when they land.
- Most ground squirrels kiss when they see each other.
- Tree squirrels play an important role in reforestation by burying nuts that sprout and grow into adult trees.
- Ground squirrels excavate soil which aerates it and makes it more suitable for growing crops.
- All squirrels have an important position in the food chain, as they are an invaluable source of sustenance for many predators.
- The brainy Rocket J. Squirrel (aka Rocky the Flying Squirrel), created in 1959 by cartoonist Jay Ward, is one of the world's most famous of the Sciurus genus. He hangs with Bullwinkle the Moose.
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