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October Is National Squirrel Awareness Month

Move over dogs, October is going to the squirrels.

Whether they're darting across roads or burying nuts in your backyard, it seems like squirrels are everywhere you look these days as they get ready for the upcoming winter. So it makes sense that October is National Squirrel Awareness Month. Since these amazing acrobats are so entertaining to watch, why not show squirrels some appreciation this month.

There is even a Squirrels.org Web site, a source for all squirrel facts.

To celebrate National Squirrel Awareness Month, here are five fun facts:

1. Gray squirrels are constantly seen gathering nuts, the staple of their diet, but they also commonly eat seeds and fruit. However, if their main food sources are unavailable, they will dine on bird eggs, insects or even animal carcasses.

2. What else do gray squirrels need to survive? Salt. Squirrels search along roads for places where snow and ice may have deposited the salt their diet requires.

3. Squirrel teeth grow continuously.  In fact, their incisors grow six inches per year. So why don't we see squirrels running around with huge fangs?  Since their teeth receive constant wear from cracking open nuts and chewing on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth, they get filed down to an appropriate length.

4.  After squirrels break a nut open, they will clean it by licking it or rubbing it on their face prior to burying it.  This ritual scents the nut, which makes it easier for the squirrel to find it later - especially with a foot of snow covering the ground.

5.  It can be frustrating when you're driving down the road to have a squirrel run out in front of you and then change direction several times instead of simply running straight across the street.  Why do they sometimes make such erratic movements?  It is believed that the squirrel is attempting to confuse the oncoming vehicle.  Sadly, this is often a fatal mistake for the squirrel - most squirrels in urban environments don't make it to their first birthday, due to being struck by vehicles.

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