By Heidi Glaus
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - They are the bushy tail rodents that scamper in practically every park, yard and forest in the world.
"We have about three of the more common squirrel species in Missouri, so we have the fox squirrel which is kind of the reddish color one and then this one is the gray squirrel, this is the most common one everyone will see," said Kevin McCarthy, Interpretive Center Manager at Rockwoods Reservation and August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area.
Missouri is also home to the flying squirrel.
"They have these big flaps of skin between their front legs and their back legs and they kind of glide from tree to tree," McCarthy said.
But they're nocturnal so we rarely seem them. Of course, we rarely see any baby squirrels.
"They're pretty hairless and they're pretty small and they kind of look like any other rodent," McCarthy said.
Big sharp teeth included, but they're also blind and dependent on their mother for two to three months so she keeps them high above the ground in a rather large nest.
"It could be the size of a hornets nest or multiple basketballs, it's a big nest of leaves and that's where the babies are at," McCarthy said.
They have to grow up rather quickly, however, to avoid predators.
"Great Horned Owls, these guys, are a big predator of squirrels and depending on the size of a squirrel they can just gulp the whole thing down," McCarthy said.
No wonder they all scamper so quickly, what you might not realize is how hard they're working.
"They actually are a great distributor of oak trees, for the thousands of acorns that they bury every fall they only find a small percentage of them so for every acorn if it's in a good spot that could actually grow up and be a new oak tree that then feeds other critters," McCarthy said.
So has annoying as they might be given the mess they can make, they're actually doing some good, even if it is by accident.