Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere! I’m talking about those funny little critters called squirrels.
As the fall baby season is coming to an end, TWRC Wildlife Center has been inundated with babies. What is normally a very busy time anyway, Hurricane Harvey only added to the numbers. Hundreds of orphans were admitted and will continue to be cared for until they are ready for release.
The Houston area is home to the gray squirrel, the fox squirrel, and the flying squirrel. About 90% of the squirrels in our area are gray squirrels. Most people have never seen a flying squirrel because they are nocturnal. They are very small and their tail acts as a rudder to help guide it in flight. They don’t have wings but rather skin that forms “flaps” that stretch between the “ankle” and “wrist”.
If you’ve ever seen a squirrel eating out of a “squirrel-proof” bird feeder, then you know how intelligent they are. They have also been known to pretend to bury food just to trick other animals. A 2010 study showed that when a squirrel is being watched, they will actually dig a hole, pat it with their front teeth and scrape dirt over it to make it look like they are burying a treasure when, in fact, they are hiding their stash in a pocket near their armpit.
Here are some things you probably don’t know about squirrels:
• A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing. In the wild, squirrels are constantly gnawing which keeps them short.
• When you see squirrels running and zig-zagging in your yard, they are doing this to avoid capture by a predator.
• Baby squirrels are only about an inch long when they’re born.
• There are 285 species of squirrels and they can be found in every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
• Squirrels have four toes on the front feet and five on the back feet.
• Squirrels will twitch their tails to alert other squirrels to possible danger.
• Squirrels have more than one nest. If one gets destroyed or infested with insects, they always have a back-up.
TWRC Wildlife Center is a 38-year-old non-profit in Houston that rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing healthy animals back to the wild. If you love wildlife and want to help, go to www.twrcwildlifecenter.org or you can call 713-468-8972.
— Cheryl Conley, TWRC Wildlife Center