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7 Ways to Celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day
Guest post by Susan Goodman
No, we’re not kidding. There really is a National Squirrel Appreciation Day every January 21st. It’s time to honor these adorable mammals that scamper around cities, suburbs, parks, and forests all over the United States. We’ve made it easy for you! Check out these 7 ways for your family to celebrate them:
1. Get in the Mood
This attitude correction may be tough to do if you’re plagued by squirrels squatting in your attic or squirrels totally unbaffled by the baffle of your backyard bird feeder. But these animals definitely have a good side:
- They plant a lot of seeds and nuts, dig up previously planted ones, and aerate your lawn with holes all at the same time.
- Their chattering, tail-flicking, and treetop acrobatics can keep your kids entertained.
- Research has shown that squirrels are far smarter than most people realize.
- They are the only wild mammals many kids will routinely see. And that should count for something!
2. Feed Them, and They Will Come
This holiday was founded in 2001 by wildlife rehabilitator Christy Hargrove of Asheville, North Carolina, who figured squirrels were running out of food sources about this time of year. So…
- Loop a piece of chain on a nearby tree branch with an eye-screw at the end. Screw on an ear of dried field corn into the eye-screw. Get ready to replace the chewed-up cob after your family has watched the squirrels swing and sway while gobbling their dinner.
- Have your child smear peanut butter on a pinecone and hang that up instead!
- Don’t throw stale bread away; put chunks of it on your deck or porch railings. Your kids can keep watch and enjoy the show.
3. Get Your Revenge by Making Them Work for It
You can appreciate squirrels and still put them through their paces. Enroll your local squirrels in the Animal Olympics by creating an obstacle course. You know that they are going to get to your birdfeeder somehow; it might as well be entertaining. Need some inspiration? Check out this video:
4. Shoot ‘Em
Don’t panic, we’re talking about cameras here! Squirrels have crazy antics and abilities. They can jump 10 times the length of their bodies. They greet family members by nuzzling each others’ cheeks. They use their tails as blankets in winter, parachutes if they fall, and as signal flags to communicate whenever they want. Keep a camera handy. Perhaps you and your kids can capture some great action shots. Display your favorite photos on the fridge! Check out Trix for Great Pics to helping your budding photographer.
5. Give Thanks for Small Favors
The most common squirrel in the United States is the eastern gray squirrel, which averages a little over 16 inches and weighs about a pound. You’re lucky; it could be worse. The ratufa (ratufa indica), also known as the Indian giant squirrel of Southeast Asia, can grow up to 3 feet in length.
6. Read Up
Don’t believe what others say—familiarity breeds appreciation. Open a book and learn more. Adults might enjoy Squirrels at My Window by Grace Marmor Spruch. Kids will cuddle up for Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin and The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Thornton W. Burgess.
7. Don’t Confuse Your Holidays
As we mentioned, National Squirrel Appreciation Day is on January 21st, but so is National Hug Day. Please don’t combine the two; keep your appreciation at a distance.
More Squirrelly Activities:
- Squirrel School
- Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook: Keep track of your squirrel observations
Susan E. Goodman currently writes the “Green Hour” features for NWF’s Your Big Backyard magazine. She is also an award-winning author of nonfiction books for children, including All in Just One Cookie andOn This Spot. To learn more about Susan and her books, visit www.susangoodmanbooks.com.