You’re out on the trail deep in a forest when you hear a suspicious rustling in the bush up ahead. You reach for your camera, primed to catch the majestic bison, elk, bear, mountain lion, or wolf as it dashes across the trail. A crack, a swaying of branches, and … a squirrel darts across your path, up a tree, and chitters at you mockingly. It’s hard to mask the disappointment.
As MNN points out, these long-tailed rodents are much more than the familiar tree rats that raid our birdfeeders in town and drop pine cones on our heads on the trail. Behold, a few wonders of the squirrel:
4. The NASDAQ stock market was briefly shut down in 1987 and 1994 due to squirrels chewing through power lines.
5. In 2005, a pack of squirrels in Russia reportedly killed a stray dog that was barking at them. They may have been starving due to a pine cone shortage.
15. A 2010 study found that some squirrels collect old rattlesnake skin, chew it up and then lick their fur, creating a kind of "rattlesnake perfume" that helps them hide from the smell-dependent predators.