Squirrels pretend to bury their food to trick potential thieves. They’ll dig a hole, pretend to push a nut inside, and cover the hole up – all the while keeping the nut in their mouth. They also ‘recache’ – burying their nuts and returning soon afterwards to dig them up and rebury them elsewhere. They’ll do this up to 5 times with the same stash.
A 2008 study found almost a quarter of squirrel nut burials at some sites were faked. They faked it more often when other animals or researchers were nearby, especially after they witnessed researchers raiding their cache.
Whether squirrels remember where they hide their nuts, or whether they just hide as many as they can and then return to the sorts of places where one might hide a nut and sniff them out, has been debated since at least 1884.
The mainstream view was that they didn’t remember, but in 1991 a study at Princeton concluded that they do remember locations. They let a squirrel hide ten hazelnuts in a particular area, then later let it search for nuts both in its own area and in ten areas where nuts had been hidden by other squirrels.
The conclusion was that they were pretty good at finding the other squirrels’ nuts, but significantly better at finding their own.
The kinds of nuts squirrels eat depend on what they can get hold of. Acorns are popular if there are oak trees nearby, but walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, almonds and hazelnuts will all make them happy, if they can find them.
Though they're not a nut, if squirrels come across peanuts, they'll happily eat these legumes (peanuts are peas rather than nuts). Peanuts are bad for squirrels though. The nuts are deficient in nutrients needed by a squirrel, if a squirrel lives on peanuts alone, it is prone to Metabolic Bone Disease, a common ailment for malnourished squirrels.
The red squirrel is more common and less dignified than the gray, and oftener guilty of petty larceny about the barns and grain-fields.
In 2015 a squirrel got locked in the bar of the Honeybourne Railway Club in Worcestershire for a day. It got drunk and caused £300 worth of damage. Club secretary Sam Boulter opened up to find broken glasses and bottles knocked off shelves, beer all over the floor and money and straws scattered everywhere.
He found the culprit hiding behind a box of crisps looking unsteady on its feet and ‘worse for wear’.
Red squirrels don’t bury their nuts, they just stack them in a big pile.
Camel's hair brushes are not made from camel's hair, they are made from squirrel’s.
Squirrels experience ‘testicular regression’ in winter. Grey squirrels testicles can reduce by around 86%.
Helena, Comtesse de Noailles, slept with silk stockings stuffed with squirrel fur wrapped around her forehead and chin to prevent wrinkles.
There are lots of different types of squirrels, over 365 species in 7 families.