Today is “Squirrel Appreciation Day”
While raccoons take pride in hunting for the best trash, squirrels are busy being diligent “green thumbs” in our cities.
I am honoured to live among so many of them in Toronto. I
talk to…ummm… see them everywhere and our dogs don’t miss a beat of their tiny feet.
Why they needed their own day
How wonderful and vital they are to our urban spaces
How you can make a difference in their lives
January 21 – Their Day
Squirrels sometimes get a bad rap, either for digging up your veggies in the summer or from mean spirited depictions like in “ Charlie the Chocolate Factory ”. ( Even I was put off after watching that movie as a kid. )
Either way, their reputations aren’t always fair. Their good deeds and loving nature often go overlooked.
In 2001, wildlife rehabilitation specialist, Christy Hargrove, founded National Squirrel Appreciation Day in Asheville, North Carolina.
Christy created this day…
…to encourage kind attitudes towards our bushy-tailed neighbors by setting out food and water for squirrels, and even allowing them to play with that bird-feeder you normally don’t want them touching.
Little did she know, animal lovers alike would spread the word internationally, for more than 10 years.
Squirrels are Wonderful Gardeners
They spend most of their time planting nuts and seeds with the intention to dig them up later, only to leave about 75% unrecovered and growing into the plants and trees that fill our natural spaces. I am a fan of this adorable and essential forgetfulness.
You may ( unintentionally ) be helping your local squirrels with their foraging if you plant seeds in your own backyard. 25% of a squirrel’s stash is usually stolen from other squirrels and animals. This means yours could be getting stolen too !
Although this seed theft can anger some people, I am always delighted to think that my actions are helping any element of wildlife. So keep planting.
They are Truly Canadian
From the Over 200 Species of Squirrels, 22 of them Live in Canada. You can find them in every province and territory. Thankfully they have never shied away from our cities either.
They are a Pleasure to Photograph
They have always been available models for our Urban Animal cameras. Their curiosity and willingness to stop and pose, makes any photo walk worthwhile.
Let’s Make Life Better for Squirrels
Research your local city bylaws before feeding any squirrels.
To use Toronto as an example:
At the time of this article, there are no specific city bylaws that restrict the feeding of squirrels on your own property.
But, it can be a hefty fine if you are feeding them in a public park.
Build A Backyard Maze
A backyard maze for these smarter-than-you-think rodents can conjure hours of creativity and entertainment. Use recycled materials like paper towel rolls, boxes and nutty rewards to entice the win.
Help Fight The Stigma
If you see a scruffy looking squirrel in the springtime with missing patches of fur, it’s likely that it’s nesting and preparing for its babies. They lose fur because of the heat, not necessarily because of sickness. Spread this information to all of your friends.
If you do find a sick or injured squirrel in Toronto. There is no better local resource for help than the Toronto Wildlife Centre.
Support your Local Wildlife Rescue Organizations
Buy Merchandise to Support Urban Animal and Wildlife Rescue at the same time.
A perfect reason to get out for a walk in your neighbourhood. Share images of these master planters all over your social accounts today.
Spread your love of Squirrels.
Leave us your favourite way to make life better for squirrels in the comments below.
Author: Lauren Howard
Images: Lisa Wiebe