Written By: Sarah Girton
The Infamous Squirrel… Loved by some, hated by others. Whether you’re locked in a battle of wits to keep them off your bird feeders, or you happily indulge their appetites and give them all the corn and peanuts they can eat, there is one thing that both sides can agree on; They are crafty and determined little creatures! For the next couple of weeks we are taking a closer look at this most Machiavellian of rodents. This post will be ‘pro-squirrel’ (cool facts, what to feed them, etc), and next week will be ‘anti-squirrel’ (humane deterrents, how to keep them away from feeders, etc)
Did you know? Squirrels are actually responsible for more damage to US power grids than cyber attackers! In an article published on the website Cybersecurity Insiders, since 2013, squirrels and other animals like birds, rats, and snakes have been responsible for causing $8 billion in damage to critical infrastructure.
Squirrels also have quite the acting chops! Characters like Rocky, Scrat, Sandy Cheeks, and Secret Squirrel (just to name a few!) have become etched in Hollywood culture. Marvel even has a superhero named Squirrel Girl, who has the power to communicate with squirrels and possesses squirrel-like abilities.
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, which includes squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and other small-to-medium sized rodents. They are largely opportunistic feeders, eating everything from seeds and nuts, to fruits, insects, and bird eggs. But if you have resident squirrels around your home, you probably already know this! As evidenced by the creative ways in which they can access your bird feeders, squirrels are intelligent little creatures.
Since squirrels are rodents, their incisors are constantly growing. Because of this they have a persistent urge to chew. Unfortunately this sometimes means that our belongings will become the target of their chewing. This is an opportunity to provide squirrel-specific chewables, like our Nut’n’Sweet Corn Squirrelogs, as they provide both a food source and a nice place to grind down their teeth.
In a study conducted by the University of Exeter, squirrels were put to the test with puzzles designed to test their spatial memory. The squirrels exceeded every expectation! Even in this video below, you can see how quickly squirrels are able to adapt to new situations to achieve the desired result.
As I mentioned earlier, squirrels are opportunistic feeders. Two of their favorites are corn and peanuts. There are several ways to offer these delectable treats, with a variety of feeders to pair with them. And even if you do enjoy feeding birds and squirrels alike, it is easier to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders by providing these options in a different location.
It’s also imperative that squirrels can feel safe while eating, as they are preyed upon by many other animals. Keeping your squirrel feeders at least 4-5” off the ground will provide some security. We also recommend against hand-feeding your squirrels, as there is more risk paired with this method. Squirrels are wild animals, and there is always the possibility of getting bitten or the passage of germs, either squirrel-to-human or vice versa. As long as you do it safely and properly, feeding your squirrels can be very rewarding and enjoyable!
And if you are not a squirrel person, or you just don’t like how destructive they can be, next time we will discuss options for keeping them away from your feeders and the damage to a minimum!