Squirrel Collecting 101
A few questions may arise: What do squirrels eat, how they communicate, and when they give birth? Here’s a quick rundown on these questions. Squirrels give birth during different times of the year and use attics, chimneys, sheds, and openings under porches as their dens. You should not relocate or trap a squirrel until breeding season has finished. Trapping and moving the family will result in the loss of their nursery habitat, and the babies might die.
Tree squirrels hoard up to 80% of their cache
According to a University of Richmond study, tree squirrels are capable of hoarding up to 80% of their cache. They do this in a variety of locations, but some of the most likely cache locations are hidden under snow and under big oak trees. While a squirrel may lose the acorn, the tree squirrel’s nutty habits are beneficial to other organisms. Because tree squirrels often miss some acorns, the resulting oak forests are likely to regenerate.
This study showed that squirrels paw manipulate nuts before eating them and caching them. This may indicate that they are assessing the value of the food, looking for imperfections in the shell, or determining the best carrying methods. Further study could alter the food quality, size, and texture of nut caches to determine the specific role played by each of these factors in influencing squirrel behavior. While we have only begun to understand how squirrels cache foods, we are not clear about the factors that influence how they do so.
Squirrels build nests from natural debris
In some cases, the question of how many squirrels build nests from natural debris is irrelevant, but for others, the answer is quite significant. Nesting materials can vary greatly among species and habitats. Red-bellied squirrels, for example, tend to select West Indies mahogany trees more often than you might expect. The trees are suited to nest building because of their high hurricane-survival rates, as well as the sap they produce is antimicrobial and resistant to decay. Florida poisonwood, on the other hand, is likely avoided by these squirrels. It is unclear what factors may influence a squirrel’s decision, but it is worth noting that this species of squirrels is primarily found in habitats with high percentages of canopy cover.
The construction of a nest is an extremely complex process, with multiple steps and materials. The basic structure of a squirrel’s nest is a tightly woven mesh made of natural debris, with a core of natural twigs or branches. This material is then combined with moss and damp leaves to form a protective shell. Once the outer shell is complete, the squirrel will stuff the interior with leaves, grass, bark, and other materials. A drey can be up to 30 feet in height and may be located near a food source.
Grey squirrels out-compete the reds for territory
Grey and red striped squirrels are not territorial and rarely compete with each other. In fact, red squirrels are rarely aggressive toward the other and their interspecific interactions are often indifferent. Grey and red squirrels also do not display strong territorial traits, so there is little need to worry. However, the situation in many cities is far different. For this reason, grey squirrels are considered less dangerous by humans.
Eastern grey squirrels have peak activity periods about two to five hours before sunrise and at least one hour before sunset. These peak activity times allow them to avoid the hottest part of the day. In addition to the winter months, male eastern grey squirrels are more active than females. In fact, females are more active during the summer and males are more active during winter. These are the two main types of squirrels that are most commonly seen in urban areas.
Squirrels communicate through their tails
If you want to know how squirrels communicate with each other, you can watch their tails. Their tails serve as a defensive shield for squirrels, as they often have to avoid being eaten by rattlesnakes. It is also used to signal danger to others. When squirrels are alarmed, they flick their tails to alert their neighbors. During mating season, their tails become fluffed-up and waving.
Tree squirrels are especially adept at using their tails as a form of communication. Their scientific name, sciurus, comes from the Greek word skia, meaning “shadow”. They often sit with their tail curled over their backs. A squirrel will also communicate with a human by using its tail. It is not uncommon to hear a squirrel’s tail ring when he or she speaks.
Grey squirrels carry the squirrel pox virus
Squirrelpox, also known as parapox, is a potentially fatal disease that strikes red and grey woodchucks in the United Kingdom and other parts of North America. The virus is commonly carried by grey squirrels and is rarely fatal to these species. This is surprising since grey squirrels are absent from the red squirrel’s native range in Europe. However, the prevalence of the disease in grey squirrels in some parts of the world is still unknown.
Red squirrels are highly susceptible to the disease, which began in the early 1900s. However, recent reports of SQPV in red squirrels indicate that the virus is endemic in the UK, and outbreaks have been documented in various locations in the UK. However, until 2011 SQPV was not known in Ireland. Two separate incidents were reported in Northern Ireland, while Sean Callanan found an outbreak in County Wicklow. Recent reports of SQPV infection in grey squirrels and red squirrels in Ireland reflect the increased seropositivity of these animals.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.