Thanks to the Internet, there is a day of recognition for just about anything you can think of, from beavers (April 4th) to tripe (October 24th). On January 21st, the humble squirrel had its day in the sun.
The hashtag #SquirrelAppreciationDay trended on Twitter and prompted an outpouring of admiration for the rodents. As squirrel fans ourselves, we thought we'd share a few fun facts about these quirky creatures.
1. There are 22 different species of squirrel found in Canada
Six are tree species, while 16 are ground-dwelling species.
2. They are found in every province and territory
From the Douglas squirrel in the west to the Arctic ground squirrel in Nunavut to the red squirrels introduced in Newfoundland in 1963, sciurids are as Canadian as maple syrup.
3. They have multi-purpose tails
Tree squirrels like the Eastern Grey Squirrel have bushy tails they use to help them balance in high places and as a rudder when jumping from branch to branch. Their tails are also used for warmth in winter and for signalling their mood to other squirrels.
4. They are eating machines
Some species within the Sciuridae family, such as chipmunks and ground squirrels, have pouches in their cheeks to assist with carrying food for storage or consumption.
5. They come in a wide range of sizes
The largest squirrels found in Canada are Hoary Marmots, sometimes called "whistle pigs" for the high-pitched sound they make when threatened. Hoary Marmots can be up to 80 centimetres long and weigh six kilograms.
The smallest squirrel species in Canada is the chipmunk, which typically weighs only 50 grams.
6. They help plant trees
While they can be a nuisance to gardeners thanks to their fondness for flower bulbs, squirrels play an important role in forest regeneration. As winter approaches, squirrels prepare by burying nuts and seeds to help see them through. Inevitably, some of their stash will be forgotten and germinate in the spring.
7. They are hilarious
Squirrels are a popular subject for photography — at least among Canadian Geographic Photo Club members — thanks to their curious nature and gravity-defying acrobatics.