Squirrels are interesting critters because they really do not hurt much on the farm, but they seem to be around…
Squirrels are interesting critters because they really do not hurt much on the farm, but they seem to be around all the time and become disturbing in other ways. Their most destructive nature comes out when you have bird feeders on the farm because they like trying to get the food as they can. Woodpecker is most vulnerable, because the squirrel will chew them to get to their content. Metal feeder tends to damage your teeth a bit more and create more of an obstacle. They also dig many holes around the farm in the fall as they try to bury the food they have collected. I notice the most in my gardens where I have mulch, because it is scattered everywhere, and usually not where it should be!
These curious beings are part of the rodent family, but I have to admit that they are much faster than the mice and rats belonging to the same group. Squirrels have the sweet face with their perked ears and big eyes that seem to take in everything around them. Their eyes are placed on the sides of their faces, enabling them to see both in front of and behind them. This is an excellent feature when they constantly look for predators like hawks, foxes, raccoons and owls, to name a few.
They have a joyful character, which is obvious with their jumps and jumps around within the trees. Sometimes I think they are the monkeys of the north because they can walk from one tree to another without effort. Their large fluffy tails are usually as big as the rest of the body and their fur is very smooth and soft when touched. They are so irresistible, but I would not recommend loving them too much as they can bite if you try to hand them.
Squirrels are unique in design because they have double led legs that allow them to cling to trees and climb them quickly. They have sharp claws that easily hold the bark for a safe support system. Their hind legs have five toes each while their front only contains four. Their big tail is used for balance and navigation when it becomes difficult when flying in a sharp situation.
There are almost 350 different types of squirrels in the world, on all continents except Antarctica and Australia. They are native to America and Eurasia and were introduced to Africa at a later date. The most common types we have in our area are western and eastern gray squirrels, the red squirrel and the flying squirrel. The gray squirrel is almost twice the red squirrel and seems to be the most common. The flying squirrel is not seen as often as it is a nightly species.
Flying squirrels do not actually fly, but rather they slide through the air from a high point to a lower spot. They have a flap of skin that is attached from the body to all four extremities. When they jump from a tree suit, this flap acts as parachute and lets them slide to the ground floor. In some cases, they can travel up to 1
50 meters in this way.
Squirrels live anywhere 10-12 years old and are sexually mature at 1 year of age. They typically have two litters a year with anywhere between two and eight babies each time. The children are born without fur and blind and remain so far for almost two months. They trust the mother to nurture them in adulthood.
The main source of food for these animals is nuts, berries and seeds that are high in fat, carbohydrates and starches. Everyone serves as a major source of energy throughout the winter months when food can be scarce. In the fall, they collect these items and bury them in the field. Many times they will rub the food to the side of the face and then bury it. This exercise serves as a transfer of the smell to the object so that they can sneak out later in the winter. They have good memories of where they have hidden these items and can smell them even under a foot of snow.
Spring bulbs are also a treatment for squirrels, as they are the perfect starch source. They will typically go for tulips and crocuses, but can not stand for daffodils or allium’s taste. A great way to protect your bulbs in autumn is to put a piece of chicken wire over your light bulbs. This acts as an obstacle that prevents them from digging in the ground. This can be lifted from the ground when a spring arrives.
In the spring when their food sources have disappeared, they tend to eat for tree trees, juices, insects and larvae. If they encounter difficult times of scarce food, they can even resort to eating eggs and baby birds to survive.
I’ve heard many talk about them like pests, but overall, I think they are pretty harmless and fun to watch. If you want to encourage them to your farm, try to lay out a dish of unsalted peanuts and other unsweetened nuts and seeds and see them gather. You will also see some new nut-loving bird species join in the fun. During this season you can see nature’s creatures at its best. Instead of thinking about ways to get rid of them, it’s easier to think of ways that we can coexist with them in a balance of sweet harmony.