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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day

Plan your schedule accordingly.

by: Ted Alvarez

image: Wikimedia Commons
image: Wikimedia Commons

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.

When out hiking, the charismatic megafauna get all the glory. BUT NOT TODAY, because January 21 is national Squirrel Appreciation Day.

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.

21. Squirrels communicate using complex systems of high-frequency chirps and tail movements. Studies have also found they're capable of watching and learning from each other — especially if it relates to stealing food.
 

One that MNN misses: Squirrels excel at comedy, and potentially invented the photobomb.

Let’s recap: Squirrels can kill your pet, camouflage their scent, are funnier than Bill Murray, and can control global financial markets. That makes a bear seem weak and boring by comparison.

Read more: MNN 


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