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Park Squirrels

Today’s short blog talks about park squirrels, a cute little animal found all over London parks. Squirrels typically have a long, bushy tail and small pointed ears. They also have sharp claws which they use to climb trees and gather food.

Fossils record the evolutionary history of tree squirrels back to the Late Eocene Epoch (41.3 million to 33.7 million years ago) in North America and the Miocene Epoch (23.8 million to 5.3 million years ago) in Africa and Eurasia. 2 subfamilies comprising 272 species in 51 genera found worldwide.

According to my research female squirrels live up to 5 years and males around 2-3 years. They were introduced to the United Kingdom from the USA between 1876-1929, and as a consequence the grey squirrel is now widespread in England and Wales, central Scotland and the eastern half of Ireland, and still spreading. Grey squirrels are essentially animals of deciduous woodland.

Squirrels mostly live in broadleaf woodlands containing oak, beech, sweet chestnut and hazel. They can also be found in parks, gardens and urban areas where there are suitable trees. Squirrels make a spherical nest out of twigs and leaves, typically found in the forks between branches at least six metres off the ground. 

Squirrels have a keen sense of knowing when another squirrel is watching them, and they often put on a show to trick their competitors. They dig a hole and pretend to bury a nut while hiding it in their armpit, and then they run off and bury the nut in a more secluded spot.

These creatures aren’t dangerous, and to the contrary they run away if you get too close. They have an innate sense to rush off up trees as their escape plan.

Take care!

Prof. Carl Boniface  


Vocabulary builder:

Bushy (adj) = thick, hairy, profuse, abundant, shaggy, luxuriant

Eurasia (n) = land area consisting of Europe and Asia.

Genera (n) = types, kinds, sorts, species, classes, groups, categories, genres

Deciduous (adj) = means to “fall off,” and every fall these trees shed their leaves. Most deciduous trees are broad-leaved, with wide, flat leaves. The trees often have a rounded shape, with branches that spread out as they grow. The flowers, called blossom, turn into seeds and fruit.

Broadleaf (adj) = A broad-leaved, broad-leaf, or broadleaf tree is any tree within the diverse botanical group of angiosperms that has flat leaves and produces seeds inside of fruits. It is one of two general types of trees, the other being a conifer, a tree with needle-like or scale-like leaves and seeds borne in woody cones.

Spherical (adj) = sphere-shaped, round, globular, circular, (ant) flat

Secluded (adj) = private, quiet, sheltered, isolated, out-of-the-way, (ant) public

Innate (adj) = inborn, distinctive, characteristic, native, instinctive, inherent, natural

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