Even if you live in a big city, you probably see wildlife regularly. You will surely meet many squirrels, even in the densest urban areas. And if you happen to live on a college campus, then you're probably overrun. While some people consider them adorable, others see them as stubborn pests that are eager to chew and nest. But in honor of the National Squirrel Appreciation Day, there are 15 reasons why you should appreciate the clever, amazing, bushy guys.
. 1 You can really jump far.
In a study [PDF] of the tree-dwelling ribwort squirrel on the campus of the National University of Singapore, Squirrel It was observed as they jump nearly 1
. 2 They are very organized …
In fact, they may be better organized than you. A 2017 study found that Eastern fox squirrel living on the UC Berkeley campus sort their nuts by type. With a mixture of walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts, the squirrels needed the time to hide each type of nut in a particular place. This method of "spatial chunking" can help them remember where the nuts are when they are recalled later. Although the study was unable to establish this with certainty, the results of the study indicated that the squirrels might have organized their caches in even more subtle categories, such as the size of the nuts.
. 3 … But their forgetfulness helps the trees to grow.
Tree squirrels are one of the most important animals when it comes to planting forests. Although they may be careful of where to bury their acorns and other nuts, they still forget about some of their caches (or neglect them at least when picking them up). If this is the case, these acorns often sprout, resulting in more trees and eventually more acorns for the squirrels.
. 4 They help truffles to thrive.
The squirrel digestive system also plays an important role in the survival of truffles. While supernatural mushrooms can spread their spores in the air, truffles grow underground. Instead of relying on the air, they rely on hungry animals like squirrels to spread their spores among other hosts. The flying squirrel, which grows in the forests of northern North America, depends largely on the buried mushrooms for its nutrition and plays an important role in truffle propagation. The squirrels spit the spores undamaged on the forest floor, allowing the fungi to grab and form a symbiotic relationship with the tree roots.
. 5 You are one of the few mammals that can run a tree headfirst.
You may not be particularly impressed When you see a squirrel running down a tree, but actually accomplish a great feat. Most animals can not climb straight forward, but the squirrel's rear knuckles can be rotated 180 degrees, turning their paws to catch the tree trunk as it descends.
. 6 Several cities compete for the title "home of the white squirrel."
Squirrels are a more popular city mascot than you think. Surprisingly, more than one city wants to be known as the "home of the white squirrel," including Kenton, Tennessee. Marionville, Missouri; the Canadian city of Exeter, Ontario; and Brevard, North Carolina, the site of the annual White Squirrel Festival. But Olney, Illinois, is perhaps the most intense in terms of the high population of albino squirrels. There is a fine of $ 750 for killing pure white animals, and they have the legal privilege on roads. Every year there are an official number of squirrels in the city. In 1997, when the domestic cats posed a threat to the popular rodent inhabitants, the city council forbade the residents to let their cats run outdoors. In 2002, the city hosted a 100-year white squirrel feast where a monument was erected and a "squirrel blessing" held by a priest. Police officers wore special patches with squirrels for the event.
. 7 They could help with stroke research.
Ground squirrels hibernate in winter, and the way their brain works can help scientists re-engineer a nervous system Drug that can limit the brain damage caused by strokes. When ground squirrels go into hibernation, their core temperature drops dramatically – in the case of the arctic ground squirrel, to as low as 26.7 ° F, possibly the lowest body temperature of a mammal on Earth. In this extra-cold hibernation, a squirrel's brain undergoes cellular changes that help it reduce blood flow. Researchers are currently trying to develop a drug that could mimic this process in the human brain to prevent brain cells from dying when blood flow to the brain is interrupted during a stroke.
. 8 Her coat could have spread leprosy in the Middle Ages.
If you always warn your friends about eating or feeding squirrels because they can spread disease, put that story in your pocket for later: they may have helped leprosy from Scandinavia to Britain in the 9th century. Research published in 2017 found a leprosy strain similar to a modern variant found in squirrels in southern England in the skull of a woman who lived between 885 and 1015 AD in England. The scientists suspect that leprosy could have arrived along with Viking squirrel skins. "It is possible that this leprosy strain was spread in southeast England through contact with the much-prized squirrel skin and flesh that was traded by the Vikings during that woman's lifetime," said one of the authors . The Guardian . This may not be the best reason to appreciate squirrels, but it's hard not to admire their influence!
. 9 They are stronger than hackers.
Frederic J. Brown, AFP / Getty Images
While energy companies have to worry about hackers breaking the power grid, squirrels are actually far more powerful than cyber-whizzes when it comes to sabotaging our power supply. A website called Cyber Squirrel 1 documents all public records of squirrels and other animals that disrupted the 1987 energy service. During this time, more than 1,100 squirrels were counted worldwide, which is undoubtedly a significant underestimate. In a survey conducted by US utility companies in 2016, wildlife was the leading cause of power outages, and for most energy companies, this usually means squirrels.
10th They can warm their tails to fend off predators.
David McNew, Getty Images
California ground squirrels have an interesting chance to scare off rattlesnakes. Like cats, their tails rise when they go into defense. A squirrel waves its tail to a rattlesnake to convince the snake that it is an impressive opponent. Surprisingly, they beat their tails for their enemies, whether it is light or dark. Squirrels can control the flow of blood to their tails to cool or keep warm, and they use this to their advantage in combat by pumping blood into their tails. Researchers found in 2007, even if the rattlesnakes do not see the bushy tails, can feel the heat they emit.
. 11 They help scientists to determine if a forest is healthy.
Researchers are looking at tree crocodile populations to measure how well a forest ecosystem is progressing. Because they depend on their forest habitats for seed, nesting and food storage, the presence and demographic structure of squirrels in an area is a good basis for the health of a mature forest. Investigating the changes in squirrel populations can help experts determine the environmental impact of deforestation, fires, and other events that alter the forest habitat [PDF].
12th You can lie.
Gray squirrels know how to cheat. They can refer to what is called "tactical deception," a behavior previously seen only in primates, a 2008 study found. The researchers believe they are being watched by someone trying to steal their food supply, researchers say. They claim to dig a hole as if burying their head or nut, put their snack in their mouth and bury it elsewhere.
. 13 She used to be America's most popular pet.
Although some states prohibit (or require approval) the prohibition of squirrels as pets, this used to be commonplace. Warren G. Harding kept a squirrel named Pete, who sometimes came to sessions and meetings in the White House, where members of the Harding Cabinet drove him crazy. But keeping a squirrel was not just for world leaders – the rodent was the most popular pet in the country, according to Atlas Obscura. Since the 18th Century squirrels were an integral part of the American pet landscape and were sold in pet shops. Despite Harding's love for Pete, squattering when he lived in the White House in the 1920s was already subsiding, partly because of the advent of exotic animal laws.
fourteenth The mere sight of just one squirrel could once attract a crowd.
The 19th century American cities were not great places to look at wildlife, including squirrels. In fact, the animals were so rare that in the summer of 1856, when a gray squirrel escaped from his cage in a residential building in downtown New York (where it certainly lived as someone else's pet), it was earned in
The New York Times . According to the newspaper, several hundred people gathered to look at the tree where the squirrel had taken refuge and try to persuade the rodent. In the end, a policeman forced the crowd to disperse. The paper did not document what had happened to the poor squirrel.
15th In the 19th century, they were charged with teaching compassion.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
In the mid-19th century, he was looking for something back in nature to concrete primeval forests, cities began to reintroduce squirrels into their city parks. Squirrels were a rare opportunity for big city dwellers to see wildlife, but they were also seen as a kind of moral compass for little boys. Watching and feeding urban squirrels was seen as a way to deter boys from their "tendency to cruelty," according to the University of Pennsylvania historian Etienne Benson [PDF]. The founder of Boy Scouts, Ernest Thompson Seton, argued in an article from 1914 that cities should introduce "missionary squirrel" into the cities so that the boys can make friends with them. He and other proponents of urban squirrels "saw [them] as opportunities for boys to establish trusting, sympathetic, and paternalistic relationships with animal others," Benson writes.
But not only boys were convinced of a small squirrel feeding time. When the animals were first reintroduced into parks in the 19th century, feeding squirrels was considered a charity event – an action that is also accessible to those who did not have the opportunity to show charity in other areas. "Due to the presence of urban squirrels, even the least powerful members of human society could prove the virtues of charity and show their own moral value," Benson writes. "Gray Squirrels helped make the American City Park a place of charity and compassion for the weak." Even if you were too poor to give charity to anyone else, you could at least give the squirrel something back.
Bonus: Earlier they also hate the tax season.
Although most of the US did not exist in the big cities, it was once overrun by squirrels. The large numbers of gray squirrels in early Ohio caused such widespread crop destruction that people were encouraged to hunt them. In 1807, the Ohio Assembly called on citizens not only to pay their regular taxes but also to add some squirrel carcasses. According to the Ohio History Connection, taxpayers had to hand in at least 10 squirrel scalps each year to the clerk. Tennessee had similar laws, though this state would make people pay in dead crows if they could not kick up enough squirrels.