In an article about Squirrel Awareness Month, a photograph of a squirrel

Why You Should Be Aware of Squirrel Awareness Month

How do we end up with these holidays?
October 5, 2022
7 mins read

Welcome to October, the month of spooky pumpkins, changing leaves, crisp fall air and… squirrel awareness? Yep, October is officially Squirrel Awareness Month. How did we end up with countless obscure and seemingly random celebrations? The history of Squirrel Awareness Month is about as uncomplicated and random as one would expect. According to the Squirrel Lovers Club website, a man named Greg was visiting the Grand Canyon when he was temporarily distracted from the beautiful scenery by a meaningful exchange with a squirrel. He created the Squirrel Lovers Club when he returned home and laid the foundation for squirrel awareness and an entire month devoted to the small rodent.

How hard is it to get a whole month dedicated to a cause? That depends on the level of validity needed and the size of the marketing budget. With only 12 months in a year, there is inevitably considerable overlap between different causes. Anyone can establish an awareness month, but obviously the causes that seem more important to the general public will have a higher chance of success. But how does breast cancer awareness share a month with squirrel awareness? Surely these two causes possess unequal levels of importance, yet both appear in search results for October’s awareness holidays.

The history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month dates back to the presidency of Gerald Ford. The American Cancer Society found a celebrity backer in the form of Betty Ford herself. Having survived breast cancer, she was happy to lend her spotlight to the cause. Later on, Estee Lauder Cosmetics introduced the successful ad campaign featuring the pink ribbon that remains one of the most widely recognized symbols of breast cancer awareness. As for Squirrel Awareness Month? People just like squirrels. There have been no charities associated with the cause, not one celebrity endorsement and zero corporate backing — just the goodwill that comes along with keeping a bit of trail mix in your pocket should the chance arrive that you, too, have a life-changing experience with a squirrel.

Do we need an awareness month for everything, including squirrels? Have we finally gone too far? Are you not already aware of squirrels? One argument is that having so many dedicated holidays assigned to every month takes away from the truly important causes. Are we raising too much awareness? On top of breast cancer and squirrel awareness, October alone splits awareness between Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, Caffeine Addiction Recovery Month, National Financial Planning Month and, as of 2022, National Cryptocurrency Month. That’s right, acknowledging your awareness of cryptocurrency this month means that you have been celebrating since its inception. If you are any of the following nationalities, it’s also your month: Filipino American, German American, Italian American. Squirrels aren’t even the only small mammal getting recognition this month; Bat Appreciation Month is already going strong this October. You can find a more comprehensive list of the month’s many awareness holidays here.

So have we gone too far with the awareness? Undoubtedly. Is it a bad thing? Probably not. It’s human nature to want to share our interests. As social creatures, like the squirrel, the act of reaching out and expressing care is the ultimate form of communication. We think, “If they only knew about this, they would care, too,” and thus the awareness month takes shape. Every month, there is a fresh list of causes out there that people would like you to know about. It takes only a few minutes to scan through the list and see if there are any causes you think are important, too. Some are looking to raise money but others, like the Squirrel Lovers Club, are only asking for you to spend just a few extra minutes this month being aware of squirrels.

To finish out this article on Squirrel Awareness Month, it’s important to note the sheer importance of squirrels. Squirrels regularly hide food like nuts and acorns for storage during the long winter months. Even in a foot of snow, squirrels can smell out their hidden treasures and dig them up. They bury so much extra food and their acorn-recovery rate is so low that they’re responsible for planting oak forests. They’re incredibly agile animals with a dedication to treats that makes them borderline geniuses. Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer, built a complex squirrel obstacle course to demonstrate their cleverness and dexterity.

And if you’re feeling especially appreciative of squirrels this month, look no further than your own backyard.  Squirrels, with almost 300 different species, can be found across the U.S. from the most rural settings to sprawling urban cities. You can give squirrels the month off with a cute little picnic table and corn on the cob to really make some squirrel friends.

It’s important to note that most wildlife experts will tell you not to feed local squirrels because it reduces their fear of humans and makes them dependent on them for food. Should you find yourself too close to a squirrel, the CDC says that they rarely, if ever, have rabies. Seventeen years ago, at the Grand Canyon, a squirrel and a man had an encounter so meaningful that it inspired a whole month dedicated to squirrels, so who knows their full potential.

Megan Miller, Arizona State University

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Megan Miller

Arizona State University

Megan has lived her whole life in Southern California where she enjoys all the local attractions, especially the beaches. She enjoys reading, writing and cooking. She is obsessed with her dog, Moose.

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