Debunking the Most Common and Best Squirrel Myths That Exist Today

Is there anything more adorable than sitting on your back porch and seeing squirrels playing in the trees? You hear their chittering and chattering as they bounce from one branch to another. The best squirrel tales usually involve the cute creatures gathering nuts for the winter or grabbing food out of the bird feeder.

While they may seem like cute and cuddly creatures, there are a lot of untrue myths and stories about these mischievous animals. We’ll examine some of the most common of these and how truth is stranger than fiction.

Squirrels Are Native to North America

There are many types of squirrels in the world. They can be found in most countries, and many people believe all the North American squirrels are native to the area, but that’s not true. You’ll find white squirrels, red squirrels, and black squirrels, but grey squirrels were brought here from Europe.

They may look like their red cousins, but grey squirrels have become a nuisance in many communities. Once brought to the U.S., the grey squirrels propagated and flourished, causing many of the native populations to decrease as they fought for limited food.

Many towns and cities have grey squirrel culling to reduce their numbers and save the native red squirrel population. There is debate on the efficacy of culling, but the cute creatures are enemy number one for many small communities.

Squirrels Don’t Cause Damage

It’s hard to think of the small creatures playing in your front yard cause serious and costly damage. They’re so small and weak, so what can they do? Squirrels are rodents and as such have the common rodent teeth like rats.

While squirrels didn’t spread the bubonic plague, they chew on wires and other items. Leave your car out near squirrels and you may find wiring under your car chewed through. This leads to many problems as a light not working to your car not starting.

Many squirrels lost their lives chewing through electrical wires and cords. They blow transformers and caused thousands of dollars of damage and hours of people without electricity. Squirrels build nests and to them, wiring is a great nesting material.

Hunting Squirrels Is Easy

People hunt many of the types of squirrel species found in the United States for food. It may not look like much meat, but it has been a staple of diets in rural areas for hundreds of years. Hunters who are used to hunting big game like deer or flying prey like ducks and geese think hunting the small creatures is easy, but they’re wrong.

Squirrels are skittish and fast. If they are here a sound, the bolt away and you miss your shot. They’re also small, which makes them difficult to hit. Many hunters use shotguns to kill flying small prey like ducks, but you need a rifle to kill a squirrel.

Squirrels are generally a close shot, and a shotgun is too powerful. There may not be much left, so they use a rifle. It makes them even harder to hit.

Best Squirrel Myth: Ratatoskr the Giant Norse Squirrel

Norse mythology is filled with interesting gods and creatures that captivate people to this day. Few realize one of the most beloved myths involves a giant squirrel named Ratatoskr. The World Tree provides access to all the realms of Norse mythology and is a massive tree.

At the top of the tree is an eagle and at the bottom is a serpent. The two animals dislike each other and it’s the job of Ratatoskr to carry messages between the two on the tree.  Most of the messages are insults and gossip between the two creatures.

It’s because he sends messages up and down the tree that Ratatoskr is wise and knows about everything going on in the realms.

Native American Squirrel Legends

Squirrels are common across the United States, so it’s no surprise the creatures ended up in the stories and legends of Native American People. Many different tribes have legends about squirrels.

In some, they’re considered troublemakers and spread gossip and trouble to other animals. This is most likely caused by their constant chittering that sounds like talking. In other tribes, they’re considered messengers that provide warnings of upcoming trouble.

The Algonquian tribe has a story about a time when squirrels were large and how they became small. In many tails, the animals are considered unintelligent and easily gullible.

Squirrels Are Short Hoppers

When we look at squirrels in our yards, we see them hop from branch to branch. It’s easy to think these small animals can’t jump far, but that’s not true. Squirrels jump as much as 10 feet without problems.

The flying squirrel uses skin flaps to glide from tree to tree. They can glide 295 feet. You can see how long squirrels jump using squirrel seed and a squirrel feeder like the one at They’ll jump down from the tree to the feeder for food.

Squirrels Don’t Serve a Purpose

People consider squirrels a nuisance because they steal food from other animals and can be a pest. It’s easy to think they don’t serve a real purpose in the ecosystem outside of a food source, but that’s not true.

Squirrels gather and eat acorns and other nuts and store them to eat during the winter. The act of gathering the nuts spreads them across the forest and helps plant new trees.

The nuts end up in the ground and help sprout new growth. These trees wouldn’t propagate nearly as much if it wasn’t for the efforts of squirrels.

This helps the squirrels too because the more nuts and acorns get planted means more trees, which means more nuts for the squirrels. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Enjoy Your Squirrel Friends

Squirrels enjoy a long and storied history in civilizations across the world. They appear in legends from many different people throughout the centuries. You can debate the best squirrel myths and legends, but there is no denying they’re cute and playful animals.

If you want to learn more about squirrels, please explore our site.