Wildlife Nuts in Your Backyard: Squirrel Finder
Don’t Be Squirrely About Squirrels!
Do you have squirrels in your neighborhood of all different shapes, colors and sizes? Many people don’t realize that there isn’t actually a single animal called a squirrel – in fact, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, there are actually over 200 different species of squirrels!
Every one of these 300 types is classified into three categories: ground squirrels, tree squirrels and flying squirrels. Holy macadamia, that’s a lot of squirrels! Here, you will find an interactive list of squirrels mapped onto their geographic habitat in the U.S. Have fun learning about the squirrels in your neighborhood!
Surly the Purple Squirrel Is Not Alone
In The Nut Job 2, one of the characters, Surly, is an Oakton purple squirrel, found only in the city of Oakton just outside of Washington, DC. Although a purple squirrel may seem like the invention of a creative and silly screen writer, the purple squirrel actually exists in nature.
Purple squirrels are rare and have been spotted mostly in the Midwest, so it’s not entirely likely that Surly would be living in Oakton in real life (and with an $861,717 average selling price in Oakton VA, he’d have to save a lot of nuts too!)
Living with Squirrels in Your Neighborhood
Wherever you live, and whatever types of squirrels you may be interacting with on a daily basis, there are some steps you can take to make interacting with your neighborhood squirrels as safe and harmless as possible.
Make sure you cap your chimney, as squirrels could accidentally fall in. Being that chimneys resemble a tall, hollow and cozy space, squirrels may attempt to nest inside of yours. Likewise, check your roof and attic for places where squirrels may be nesting.
Don’t use hot sauce or any sticky substance to repel squirrels from your bird feeder. This is extremely dangerous to a squirrel’s health. Instead, move your bird feeder away from any trees or tall structures and invest in a squirrel feeder. Don’t try to trap or relocate squirrels from your neighborhood. You may inadvertently separate a mother from her babies.
Set up a Squirrel Feeder
Based on what kind of squirrels live around your neighborhood, you can invest in a squirrel feeder that will help keep squirrels out of your bird feeder as well as give the squirrels nutrition that may be hard for them to find in colder months.
While squirrels love nuts and seeds, they also eat a wide variety of plants and even some animal-based foods. For example, the eastern gray squirrel, which you can find anywhere east of the Mississippi, loves to snack on insects and amphibians.
Most squirrels, however, will be satisfied with a squirrel feeder filled with nuts – especially if the nuts are still in their shells.
The Benefits of Having Squirrels in Your Neighborhood
Because squirrels are gatherers (gathering and stockpiling seeds, nuts, roots and other tasty treats,) they act as natural seed dispersers. Squirrels (the antithesis of elephants) often forget where they’ve stored their nuts, and so the forgotten nuts and seeds are able to sprout and become new plants.
They are also great comic relief, as they are cute, fluffy neighbors that love to munch and explore. (For a chuckle, check out this squirrel sitting in an Adirondack chair squirrel feeder!)
Squirrels Come in Peace
Although they may seem like a nuisance in your yard, squirrels don’t actually have a significant or harmful impact on gardens and backyards. They are usually just trying to gather food to survive.
Instead of trying to remove squirrels from your backyard, think of them as friendly neighbors and allow them to do their squirrely activities.
Don’t forget to explore our interactive map to find out what kind of squirrels live in your neighborhood! You may just find that you have a purple squirrel like Surly living in your vicinity.
And if you’re curious to see how Surly the purple squirrel survives his latest antics, check out The Nut Job 2 in theaters August 11th!