Beyond being one of the cutest animals out there, squirrels’ inquisitive nature, bushy tails, and tendency to hoard nuts are all characteristics that make them popular. But why do I love squirrels? Because without them, our ecosystem would be devastated. Let’s look at eleven reasons why you should love squirrels too.
They’re Natural Gardeners
As humans, we destroy many wildlife-supporting plants. Nature’s ultimate gardeners—our backyard squirrels—return the seeds to the earth by burying them. Burying helps aerate the soil and promote plant growth.
In this way, the squirrel is helping to “rewild” the landscape—bringing back seeds that would otherwise be lost due to human activity. No other creature on the planet carries out that same task as our squirrels. They are truly special animals; without them, the landscape would be very different.
Why Do We Need Squirrels to Dig and Forage
Squirrels constantly dig in the soil, looking for nuts and other food. They loosen up the soil in the process, making it easier for small animals and insects to move through. This is important because these animals and insects are essential for soil health.
Many of these animals moving through the soil are decomposers, which means they help to break down dead leaves and other organic matter. This process of decomposition is essential for the health of the forest.
Squirrels Aerate the Soil
Squirrels also help to aerate the soil. When they dig in the soil, they create tiny holes that allow oxygen to reach the roots of crops and other plants. This is important because plants need oxygen to grow.
Many of the seeds that squirrels eat end up falling to the ground and germinating. This means that they grow into new trees, which offer more nutrition when they fall and break the soil open once more. All of these things are important for soil health.
So next time you see a squirrel, remember that they are helping to keep the forest healthy!
Squirrel Poop: The Perfect Fertilizer
Squirrels eat fruits and nuts and then help spread the tree seeds in their droppings (squirrel poops ?). Squirrel poop also makes an excellent fertilizer for gardens and lawns. It decomposes within a few weeks. It’s ok, I love squirrels.
This process may seem small at first glance, but it can significantly impact over time. For example, rewilding one acre of land could potentially save more than 20 trees. So, while it might take some time to see a positive effect, the benefits of rewilding are undoubtedly worth it to create new plants and trees!
Control Pests and Insects
Even the smallest creature can have a big impact. Squirrels are one of nature’s little helpers, providing a crucial service to us humans by keeping the insect population in check.
Insects are a significant part of a squirrel’s diet. They eat them whole, destroying their nests and consuming their larvae. When other food sources are scarce, squirrels will turn to insects in large quantities to survive.
This helps to keep the insect population under control, preventing them from becoming a nuisance or causing damage to crops. In some cases, it can even help to save human lives by preventing the spread of disease.
Squirrels may be small, but they play a big role in the natural world. The next time you see one, take a moment to appreciate all the hard work they do to keep us safe and comfortable.
Pollination: Helping Plants Grow and Thrive
Squirrels are essential for pollination because they help to spread pollen from one plant to another. When squirrels eat the seeds of a plant, they inadvertently brush against the flowers and transfer pollen to them.
The pollen transfer helps fertilize the plants and ensure they can produce new seeds guaranteeing that the plant population can continue to grow and thrive.
Squirrels Help Us Study the Environment
Squirrels are not just playful creatures; they are important indicators of the health of the forest. Researchers are watching the squirrels closely. They are studying their every move, recording their activities.
Squirrels can tell us a lot about the state of the ecosystem. Their demographics are essential indicators of forest health. They can detect the effects of climate changes, global warming, logging, fires, and other events on forest habitats.
By studying the squirrels, the researchers can better understand how the forest is doing. Are the squirrels thriving? Or are they struggling to survive?
The answers to these questions can help the researchers to determine what needs to be done to protect the forest. And that is important work, for the health of the forest is vital to the well-being of us all.
Global Tree Initiative
Global Tree Initiative is doing important work for our environment. Every year, the impact of human-created climate change becomes more evident. Stories of extreme wildfires, storms, and flooding are increasingly frequent.
As we watch this environmental crisis unfold, we know it affects our generation and will impact untold generations. While it is true that this global crisis will need to be addressed at all levels of government, our individual actions matter, too.
Have you seen Global Tree Initiative’s mascot? It is none other than our very own Miss Bonnie McSquirrely!
Track Environmental Changes
Researchers often use tree squirrels to gauge other species because these animals are active during most seasons of the year and have an extensive range of habitats, from forests to fields.
Environmental changes are tracked by monitoring tree squirrels’ behavior, especially since they are sensitive to environmental changes.
Determinants of Climate Change
Researchers have used squirrel demographic data for years to study forest recovery from logging, fires, and other disturbances. They have also been used to determine how climate change affects populations of tree squirrels. One major demographic trend that researchers have identified is that tree squirrel populations are increasing as the climate becomes warmer.
How are Warmer Winters Beneficial for Squirrels?
It was believed that cold winters were a significant factor in limiting tree squirrel populations. However, recent studies have shown that this is no longer the case. Warmer winters appear to be beneficial for tree squirrels.
One reason is that warmer winters increase the number of acorns and other nuts available for squirrels to eat. Squirrels can spend more time foraging and gathering food during warmer weather, which helps them build their energy reserves.
Another reason warmer winters benefit tree squirrels is that they allow them to reproduce earlier in the year. This gives them a more extended time to raise their young, which increases the chances that they will survive to adulthood.
Overall, the evidence suggests that warmer winters are good for tree squirrels. This will likely continue to be the case as the climate continues to warm in the coming years.
Helping Scientists with Stroke Research
There are many unknowns in ischemic stroke research. It is hoped that future research will discover how to increase the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to brain cells while reducing cell death. This research focuses on brain cells more tolerant of limited blood flow. The hibernating ground squirrel is an excellent example of this.
During hibernation, ground squirrels dramatically decrease blood flow to their brains (up to 90%), which happens with people during a stroke. However, ground squirrels wake up unaffected because their brains are protected in a unique way. Ground squirrels can do this by creating a protein called RGS14 that helps protect their brain cells. This protein is not found in humans, so stroke research is essential.
Dedicated to Lucky the Squirrel
Followers of beryl_the_squirrel on Instagram have long adored Lucky, an extraordinary wild momma squirrel living in North Carolina high atop a magnificent Magnolia tree. Lucky’s life was a true testament to the strength and beauty of nature.
She was an amazing mother, a fierce protector, and a true survivor among all the dangers squirrels encounter daily. I wanted to share her story as told by her squirrel parents.
Finding Lucky Under the Magnolia Tree
We have some sad news. Tonight we didn’t see Lucky come home to the baby as it was getting dark. We knew she would have been home to feed him.
I went outside, and Lucky was near the Magnolia tree but dragging herself. We think she may have fallen as she jumped from the roof onto the tree branch (which she often did).
We did get the baby from the house (there’s only 1) and started warming him (he was cold). We got Lucky into a trap cage (she was stressed and scared and biting some).
We got them both to the local rehabber that lives nearby, and the baby is in an incubator and fed and doing ok. They will assess Lucky, but she seems paralyzed from the waist down. They will do an x-ray tomorrow, and we’ll go from there.
Send prayers and positive thoughts to Lucky. ??
So sad to report that Lucky’s little baby didn’t make it and passed on today. He was so small and only 3 days old when we took him in. He was so cold then, and we warmed him, and the rehabber got him in an incubator.
Lucky is still not moving her legs but is doing okay now. The x-ray didn’t get done today but will be done tomorrow. Hoping to have some positive news then.
Thank you all for your love for Lucky and her baby. ??
It’s with a very heavy heart we tell you all that Lucky passed away this afternoon. She had a broken spine, and her organs were failing. She never seemed to be in pain, and late this afternoon, she crawled under a blanket and just went to sleep.
We will bury her in her special spot under the Magnolia tree near where we had coffee most mornings, and Lucky would join us at the table.
She will always hold a special place in our hearts. ?♥.
Thank you all for the love and prayers for Lucky. She did live a good life and left many sweet kids for us to spoil.
Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
The wonderful Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Center volunteers did everything they could for her during the last 2 days. The x-ray machine that took the x-ray of Lucky’s spine was a demo from the company. They need help to pay for this lifesaving diagnostic tool.
One of the most critical aspects of the Wildlife Rescue Center’s work is the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses in wildlife. To do this, the center relies on a state-of-the-art x-ray machine.
The x-ray machine diagnoses broken bones, foreign bodies, and other internal injuries. It is also used to monitor the health of newborn animals and to track the progress of healing injuries.
An x-ray machine is a critical tool in the Wildlife Rescue Center’s work, but it is also a very expensive piece of equipment. The center relies on donations to help cover the cost of the machine and its maintenance.
You can help the Wildlife Rescue Center by donating to the center’s x-ray fund via PayPal. Your donation will help the center provide vital medical care to injured and orphaned wildlife.
That’s Why I Love Squirrels
At the end of the day, squirrels are worth your attention because they are an essential part of our ecosystem. We now know squirrels play a much bigger role in our natural world and our hearts.
Without these beloved little creatures, our ecosystems would be in trouble. So next time you see a squirrel, take a moment to appreciate all the essential things they do! And that’s why I love squirrels.
Subscribe to our VIP Squirrel Scoop Insider magazine to keep up with the latest happenings at Kitty City Squirrels!