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Why do squirrels have bushy tails?

 

When we see squirrels, we often notice their big, bushy tails first. And that's no surprise--this body part can be nearly as big as the critter it's attached to. But the tail is certainly not just there for decoration. Like a tightrope walker holding onto a long pole for balance, the squirrel uses its tail to keep itself steady as it leaps across treetops or does a high-wire act on telephone lines. A squirrel's tale is also told through its tail. That's because this animal acrobat uses this appendage to communicate with other squirrels. You'll often see its unique body language at work in the woods or right in your backyard. When a squirrel is alarmed, it flicks its tail; when it's feeling aggressive, it fluffs it up. During its breeding season, a squirrel will wave and shiver its tail while approaching the opposite sex.
 


And yes, as you might imagine, a squirrel will also use its big, fuzzy tail to keep itself warm and toasty--it'll wrap its tail around itself like a built-in security blanket during wintertime. A squirrel will also use it to cool off during the summer. In hot weather, the tail becomes a sunshade for the squirrel and helps protects it from the sun's burning rays. Now that's one cool customer!