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The Squirrel

Updated: Feb 11

I have seen a small agile grey squirrel that was leaping and looking around for food.

Squirrels are mammals that have mastered life in the treetops moving around them perfectly in all directions.

Jumping from tree to tree, these cute rodents make jumps of 4 to 5 meters in length. A little known fact about squirrels is that their fluffy tail plays an important role as a rudder and a parachute.

Although squirrels live in forests, they can often be seen in parks.

I was lucky enough last Saturday to meet this cute squirrel in the park near my house and it was an amazing experience for me. I could say we met eye to eye.

Unfortunately, when she finally came very close, almost within arm's length, I noticed that she was clearly waiting for a treat that I didn't have.

I've noticed before in other parks that people put down nuts, often pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts, to attract squirrels.

Squirrels open nuts and eat them very quickly, sometimes it takes them only 2 minutes. Squirrels eat more than just nuts. They also eat other fruits including cherries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. In addition to fruits they are also known to eat plant buds, shoots, flowers, acorns, bark, lichens or herbaceous plants, and even mushrooms that are not edible for humans which are found under the bark of trees or underground. On occasion squirrels will even eat the eggs and chrysalis of insects.

These small and agile animals can also jump to a bird's nest or hollow and steal and eat eggs, and sometimes even small birds.

They choose food that is attractive to them in terms of taste, shape and even hardness.

Did you know that a squirrel can judge whether a nut is good or rotten without even opening it?

She turns them over in her little paws and checks if she likes them and whether they are fit for consumption.

A squirrel I met in the park found a pistachio nut in the grass and quickly started eating this delicacy.

Squirrels can also hide and bury food. The buried food is often stolen by birds: jays, rooks or jackdaws.

Feeding squirrels is not a good idea. By doing so we disturb the balance of the entire population and cause the transmission of diseases between squirrels.

People will often offer or feed squirrels inappropriate food, such as bread, crisps and chips, salted or sweetened and highly processed. This type of food can harm their digestive system.

By feeding the squirrels, they also become less vigilant and may become prey for predators.

When I met a squirrel in the park and noticed that it had finally found a pistachio nut in the grass, I was fascinated to see how quickly and nimbly it ate it. I know, however, that this type of nut is not suitable for her, because they usually have a too hard shell when not roasted, and when roasted, they are often salted. Hazelnuts or walnuts would be a better choice.

When I finally managed to film and photograph this lovely animal next to me, it jumped very quickly and ran away to a tree where there is most comfortable and feels safe.

Squirrels often shelter in hollows or nests built of twigs and moss in dense treetops.

Now I'm thinking about inviting squirrels to my garden. They like trees, fruits and seeds, so I'm thinking of planting a hazel tree or another fruit tree or shrub. I am sure that birds will also benefit from this, and I will be able to observe them near my house.

I guess that's a good idea, don't you think?

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