The gray squirrel is one of the most common animals that you’re likely to see while camping. They are in trees from urban parks to state forests and they are very common across North America.
Gray squirrels are best known for their storing of nuts for the winter. It’s this survival practice that has probably kept their species alive for the past 35 million years! And it’s their forgetfulness on where they buried these nuts which has likely planted millions of our trees! It’s estimated that a squirrel will bury upwards of 10,000 nuts each Fall…What do you think of that, Johnny Appleseed?
Squirrels are a member of the rodent family. They do not hibernate during the winter, and you may see them digging through the snow to find their buried loot. And while a grey squirrel’s diet will consist mostly of acorns and nuts, they will scavenge what us humans leave behind…even if it is for the birds. They’ll also eat fruit, berries, bugs, and bird’s eggs.
One of the more impressive skills of the squirrel is their ability to climb, balance and jump. If you’ve ever watched one run down an electric wire and then jump into a tree without skipping a step, then you’ll know what I mean. They can climb vertical surfaces. They can jump up to 20 feet! They can fall up to 100 feet and survive, And their hind legs are double-jointed and strong enough for running, jumping and landing, while their front paws are nimble enough to rotate an acorn.
The squirrel also has a remarkable ability to smell. It’s said that a gray squirrel can smell a female in heat over 1 mile away. Their mating season is in from February to May and a young liter of 2-4 squirrels are usually born just 6 weeks later (Imagine that, Ladies, a trimester of just 2 weeks!).
Adult squirrels will grow up to be 17-20 inches long and weigh up to a pound or more. Their nests are easy to spot as they are made of small branches, leaves, grasses, and any plastic bags or other things they find lying around. Their nests are quite a construction efforts for these small fellas, but they can also be an unwelcome sight in developed areas where they’ll chew trash can lids and roof eaves?!
If you see a squirrel in the wild, take a moment to watch its agility and busy agenda. If you sit still, they’ll likely go about their business of collecting nuts, digging up nuts, and climbing from tree to tree.