Park squirrels prepare for winter

November 2
Parks and pedestrian areas

During the autumn months squirrels gather food for the winter because they do not hibernate. They fill their hollows in trees with such things as nuts, seeds, acorns, cones and dried mushrooms, which they hang on the branches. They also burry their provisions in the ground and often forget about it. This is why they are called good gardeners: the nuts sprout and new trees appear. In winter squirrels run around in search of the hidden food and make paths from their trees to the feeding areas. Squirrels like to take a nap after breakfast.

“As the winter approaches the coat of a squirrel changes from bright red to a rather long thick grey fur between late September and November. This helps them to blend in better with their surroundings,” explained Mospriroda and Moscow Department for Environmental Management and Protection experts.

Squirrels make their nests and hollows in trees which they insulate for winter with animal fur, moss and dry grass. This protects them against the wind, snowstorms and frost.

Eurasian red squirrels are widely spread throughout Russia and are frequently seen in Moscow parks. A squirrel’s maximum length is 30 cm and its weight then is about 400 grams. They can easily leap from trees to the ground and this is sometimes as much as four metres in a straight line using their tails as a rudder. In winter squirrels go more from tree to tree, but when there is no snow they can also move on the ground making leaps up to one metre long.

It’s better to abstain from feeding squirrels before the winter. But in bitter frost or when the ground is covered with ice such things as dried fruit, unsalted, unroasted nuts (no almonds), acorns or seeds can be offered. Mospriroda experts warn that it is prohibited to feed them by hand as they have sharp teeth and may carry dangerous diseases.


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