As Atwood Publishing continues its focus on sustainability, we’re putting a spotlight on squirrels for Squirrel Appreciation Day which is celebrated January 21. Sciurus carolinensis, otherwise known as the eastern gray squirrel, is one of the charismatic squirrel species deserving of our attention on that day.
A native to North America, this rodent and other squirrel species of North America have been known to hoard or cache their food supplies, we often observe them scurrying about, burying nuts or chasing one another. But Squirrel Appreciation Day isn’t just about acknowledging their cuteness (which is also very important), but also learning about them as they fit into our ecosystem. Because of their hoarding nature they are an ecologically important species, aiding in seed dispersal.
Since many squirrels cache in the ground, they subsequently aid in tree recruitment which means more trees! Many kinds of tree species owe their regeneration success to squirrels, most notably, the oak trees. Sustainable forest management practices are also necessary for forest resource sustainability, and if executed properly, can encourage natural tree regeneration as well as squirrel activity. (Squirrels are also an important part of the food web, as they provide prey for larger predators like gray foxes, bobcats and weasels which are all equally important creatures.)
How are you going to observe Squirrel Appreciation Day? If you’re always the passenger in the car to yell “squirrel” when you see a squirrel, Squirrel Appreciation Day is the perfect day to keep your eyes peeled for them all! Other ways of observing the day include: Learning about the specific species in your area — North America is home to 5 different species. Feed them — they may face hard times during winter months when food sources are scarce, so throw them some peanuts or peanut butter covered pine cones. Finally, you could shoot them — with your camera of course!