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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saturday is National Squirrel Appreciation Day

Suggested ways to celebrate January 21
By Will Collette

My favorite comic writer Dave Barry really hates squirrels. His blog regularly runs pieces involving squirrels, and some of those pieces are not for the squeamish. He tipped me off to a new day to celebrate, National Squirrel Appreciation Day, which will take place on Saturday, January 21. This is how Dave put it:


I like squirrels. I know that many don’t, but I do. We have lots of the usual gray squirrels, but also get some lively little red squirrels. And every so often, I spot a flying squirrel late at night on a bird feeder. We even had a flying squirrel get down the chimney and into the house.

When we lived outside of Washington, DC, we also had black squirrels. We always enjoyed seeing the gray and the black squirrels living and playing together in peace. Genuine greeting card moments.
Little Red, our summer visitor
I like the red squirrels the best. We had a red squirrel in residence for most of last summer. He was a feisty little guy with about a third of his tail missing, probably from an encounter with a predator. When that wound healed and the hair grew out, he had a handsome fan at the end of his tail.
He spent most of his day hanging around. He would often come up to me – but not too close – to see what I was doing. I liked the way he would curse out the other squirrels. Even though red squirrels are much smaller than the grays, what they lack in body mass, they make up for in cojones.
Our Little Red moved on at the end of the summer. I hope he comes back.
Our flying squirrel encounters started right after moving in about eight years ago. Late on a summer evening, there was a racket in the living room and we awoke to find some lamps strewn about and followed our cats into a spare bedroom.
There, they had “treed” a flying squirrel who was hanging on to the inside of a window screen and apparently preparing to be eaten by three fierce looking kitties.
I got him out by flipping the hinges holding the screen to allow the screen to fall outwards, letting the squirrel escape.
Flying squirrels look like space aliens
The following day, I called RIDEM and was told that, yes, flying squirrels are in this area, not necessarily common, but certainly not rare. However, the DEM guy was amazed that the squirrel came in. He said that human sightings of the squirrels are rare because of their nocturnal habits.
However, on half a dozen occasions, like when I’m taking out the trash late at night, I spotted a flying squirrel clinging to a wire-mesh sunflower seed bird feeder. Usually the squirrel freezes like a little statue, apparently hoping that I won’t notice its presence unless it moves.
Anyway, I know there are lots of people who don’t like squirrels. They can be messy. They certainly like to eat bird seed. They can cause home damage if you let them. But I think they’re funny and a very pleasant part of our Charlestown landscape.
There will be extra peanuts set out for them on Saturday.