- Virginia Johnson
Climb a tree, and act like a nut!
If you've got trees, you've probably got squirrels. Whether gray or black or red or white, all squirrels act pretty much the same. However, there are other animals which are close kin to squirrels which are a little shyer of people. Chipmunks and prairie dogs are cousins.
Did you know:
- Baby squirrels are called kittens?
- Some of the noises squirrels use to talk to each other can't be heard by humans?
- Their bushy tails work like parachutes to steady them as they jump from tree to tree?
- A bunch of squirrels are called a "scurry" or a "dray?"
- Flying squirrels live in forests and are active at night. They don't so much fly as glide from tree to tree.
More about Squirrels
Having a squirrel box is a terrific way to help out the squirrels. It will also be easier to watch them grow up. You can buy these or make them with an adult's help. Click here for the plans.
Squirrels have two litters a year. Sometimes the babies fall out of the nests, which can be 20 or 30 feet up. If the mother squirrel doesn't come to get the kitten, wildlife rehabilitators know how to look after helpless animals. If you find a baby squirrel, the very best thing you can do is contact your local rehabilitator for advice.
Squirrels love sunflower seeds and peanuts. They're not that good for them--very fatty, kind of like potato chips for humans. However they DO love them much as we love our peanut butter. Here's a way to share the nutty joy with the furry scurries and make a terrific homemade snack for yourself.
Recipe for Homemade Peanut Butter*
Before starting this recipe, make sure nobody nearby is allergic to peanuts!
- Get a bag of roasted but unsalted peanuts in the shell. Shell enough to make a cup and a half of peanuts. Save the rest for the chatterers.
- Check with an adult before moving on to the next step.
- Put the peanuts in a blender or food processor, and grind them up. Then add a little salt, a spoonful of honey, and a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil. Grind the ingredients some more until they are well mixed.
- Spread the peanut butter on bread or crackers with a little jelly, and you've got a sweet and nutty treat.
- Cover the leftovers, and store them in the fridge. Without all the preservatives you get in most store-bought peanut butter, you really need to keep this stuff cool. It should stay edible for about two weeks, but it's so delicious it probably won't last more than a day or two.
As far as the squirrels' share, put out a few peanuts at a time where they can get them. Don't try to handfeed squirrels. They are really shy creatures, but they have strong, sharp teeth!
If they are frightened, they will nip you, and it will HURT. It's better to just have a friendly relationship with a squirrel by giving her a little food now and then. Do leave the nuts in the shell. The critters like to chew them open. In fact, their teeth grow constantly. Squirrels NEED to chomp down on something hard to have healthy teeth.
Books and Web sites about Squirrels
Click here for Squirrels Just Want to Have Fun, our list of stories and websites that feature squirrels!
*This recipe is adapted from Mother Earth News online.