Squirrels belong to the order "Rodentia", with 1650 species; it is the largest group of living mammals. It also comprises forty percent of all present day mammal species. The word squirrel most often refers to the tree-dwelling species of the Sciuridae (“shade-tailed”) family, however, it can also refer to chipmunks, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and woodchucks. There are over 365 species of squirrels in seven families.
In the summer squirrels are most active two to three hours after sunrise, and then they'll rest in the afternoon, resuming activity again two hours before sunset. The squirrel will retire to its nest well before dark, and will rarely leave the nest in the dark. In the winter, the squirrel will complete its activities between dawn and mid- day, and will remain in or around the nest until the next day. During winter storms, or severe cold, the squirrel may not leave the nest for days.
Squirrels are omnivorous and primarily eat nuts and seeds, but also other vegetation, mushrooms, fruit and corn. They will also eat mollusks, insects, eggs and smaller mammals.
Squirrels are also quite clever and intelligent when it comes to eluding cats and other hunters. They often will move slowly around a tree trunk, always keeping the hunter on the opposite side. Squirrels will also work in groups to acquire guarded food items. While several squirrels keep a predator preoccupied, one or two squirrels will quickly sneak in and steal away the food.
Squirrels communicate through a series of chirps. The frequency, and the duration of the notes communicate everything from laughter to alarm. Their frequency range is normally between .01 KHz. and 10 KHz. (kilohertz). These sounds when used in conjunction with tail gestures form the basis for squirrel communication.
Look and listen for squirrels the next time you're in your yard or in the woods. You might see one peeking out from behind a tree or scolding you if you're disturbing it. Its tail will flick as it makes a familiar qwa-ak, awa-ak, ak-ak-ak-ak sound at you. And, if you have a bird feeder, don't be surprised if you see a squirrel hanging upside down from some tree limb trying to get a free meal.
Here are a few squirrel fun facts:
· Believe it or not squirrels can swim.
· Ah-ji-duh-mo is the Chippewa word for gray squirrel. This translates to "tail in the air."
· The saying, “bright eyed and bushy-tailed” refers to the characteristics of the tree-squirrel.
Squirrel's Wisdom Includes:
· Ability to solve puzzles
· Quick change of direction
· Storing for the future
· Balance in giving and receiving
· Power of rest during times of non-movement
· Avoiding danger by climbing to a higher place
· Sensitivity to Your Surroundings
· Having a Warm and Cozy Home
· Putting Things in Order
Squirrel medicine teaches us to discard not only unnecessary physical objects but those negative beliefs which limit our trust in love and abundance. Squirrel is also the master at bringing the spirit of play into life.
When the squirrel comes into our lives it is often a message for us to have more fun, and take life a little less seriously. We can see this in the squirrel's daily antics in our yards and surroundings.
However, other animal symbolism of squirrels deals with practicality. As the squirrel is commonly known to hide and save its food and return to it in the winter months - we take this as a sign in our own lives; a sign that it might be time to look into our own provisions. For example: Is it time to consider a retirement plan? Are you adequately insured? Squirrel may even be saying it is time to do simple and preventative repairs around the house.
There are other important questions you may want to consider if Squirrel has scampered into your life. Are you too active? Not active enough? Are you gathering more than you are giving? Are you too hung up on collecting and hoarding? Do you need to learn how to save and ration your time, money, and energy? Are you afraid you will never have enough? Are you becoming too erratic—running to and fro but never accomplishing anything? Examining your answers to these questions may give you a clue as to why Squirrel has come to visit you at this time.
It's not commonly known that the squirrel only usually finds 10% of the nuts he hides for safekeeping. This is another message from the squirrel that we can also foolishly over-prepare. Here there is a lesson of balance to be considered.
However, there is a higher significance in this message of finding the 10%. All the nuts our squirrels do not recover are all ready to seed themselves. This means, that thanks to squirrels, we are gifted with new generations of trees and plants sprouting from all the seeds and nuts left burrowed in the soil.
This symbolically coincides with the old adage "what we sow is what we reap." What may seem like absent-mindedness is actually a strong message to us to be mindful of the metaphorical seeds we plant in our own lives as they we will surely reap the consequences.
Squirrels are quite sociable, and are often seen in pairs or groups. Any amount of observation of the squirrel will reveal that it is a vocal creature as well, and using extensive communications - particularly when in play or when it feels threatened.
In this manner, the animal symbolism of Squirrel addresses our ability to express ourselves in social settings. The squirrel reminds us to communicate effectively with others, and to honor those around us with our presence (rather than dishonor them with inappropriate or rude behavior).
The animal symbolism of Squirrel is also tied in with the fact that squirrels are solar creatures, and as such, they carry solar animal symbolism such as:
Squirrel energy is recommended for:
If you haven’t seen Squirrel but can feel Squirrel’s presence, look for these signs and tracks:
Squirrel tracks are easy to identify by their small size and V-shaped arrangement.Tracks might be seen in damp, autumn mud, paths or by streams or muddy edges to ponds. They are about 3cms wide and show four claws of the front feet and five of the back feet, usually widely spaced with no signs of the tail dragging. Squirrels move by hopping and leapfrogging so the paws show inside and behind the hind paw. Trails often begin and end at tree trunks, where they have scampered around the trunk.
Look for stripped bark on the trunk of hardwood trees, split shells or husks of nuts and fruit, in particular piles of stripped cones beneath a pine tree, or tooth marks on fungi. These are all good indicators of squirrel activity.
Once you locate the tracks of squirrels, see in which direction the squirrels are traveling. Depending upon which culture you are familiar with, this direction can mean a few different things.
If for instance, the squirrel’s tracks move from West to East, from a Native American perspective, West represents a conclusion, and East speaks of ascension. Squirrel may be saying that one thing has come to an end, but another opportunity with a higher purpose is waiting.
From a zodiacal perspective West holds the sign of Scorpio, water and emotions. East is the realm of Taurus, earth and grounding. In this case, perhaps Squirrel is saying to prepare emotionally for a grounding event coming up in the future.
Squirrel’s path, combined with the Celtic symbolism of directions, indicates that preparations (a symbol of the squirrel) are setting into motion (West) a path of new beginnings (East).
Squirrel Lore and Superstitions:
Squirrel image from Freefoto.com
Animal Magick—The Art of Recognizing & Working with Familiars by D.J. Conway
Animal-Speak-The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews