Squirrels are always an intriguing animal to see roaming in the streets of New York. They’re bushy-tailed, furry rodents that go hopping around the streets, reminding the people of New York that it’s not just a concrete metropolis but also a surprisingly vibrant wildlife sanctuary. For example, did you know that the possum is native to New York? Of course, we all know that (unfortunately) rats keep infiltrating the city. For some reason, the squirrel is different from all the other rodents. They can be considered cute and is not as harmful to city life as other animals can be. In fact, did you know that January 21st is National Squirrel Appreciation Day? So, in honor of these furry creatures, here’s some interesting facts about squirrels.
- They mate twice a year (mostly in the fall/spring).
- Squirrels bury their acorns everywhere so they can eat it later, but fail to recover the acorn around 74% of the time. Many acorns go on to grow into trees.
- The German word for squirrel is “Eichhörnchen.”
The last fact is very interesting because the German word for squirrel is unlike anything else I’ve seen. I love learning languages, so this type of stuff fascinates me. Check this video out for more of a briefing on the German/English saying of squirrel:
While the fact that Germans can’t pronounce squirrel correctly is debatable, this idea was actually very important during World War II. The English army would have people say shibboleths (a word or custom that can be used to identify members of your party or members outside your party through its variation in pronunciation or style) in order to identify German spies. Some words used were flash, thunder, welcome and of course, squirrel. It was the same idea that prompted Allied forces to make people say “lollapalooza” to identify Japanese spies, since they would usually pronounce it as “rorraparooza.” This actually gave the idea for Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear video games, the idea for the La Li Lu Le Lo (for the video games fans out there).
So exactly how hard is it for Germans to say “squirrel?” Watch the video below for some fun with language.
Now if I can only find how to stop squirrels from ripping the garbage apart and nesting in my roof, that’d be awesome!