April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

A Squirrel's Guide to Success

(2018) 53 min. DVD: $24.99 ($54.99 w/PPR). PBS Video (www.teacher.shop.pbs.org). SDH captioned. ISBN: 978-1-5317-0863-4.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

While some might view squirrels as a nuisance, others admire them for being ingenious, hard-working animals, capable of adapting to almost any environment. Filmmaker Rowan Crawford’s PBS-aired Nature documentary explores what makes the squirrel so successful. There are 300 species of squirrels in the world, including some in India ranging up to three feet in length, and flying squirrels, who use webbed wings to vault up to 150 feet through a forest’s canopy. Squirrels can engage in problem solving—pitching pebbles at Pacific rattlesnakes (to provoke them into giving the squirrel escape information), “scatter hoarding” to hide nuts from thieves (squirrels remember where their hoards are stashed), and estimating distances while jumping. Their teeth never stop growing (to cope with their constant chewing), their leg muscles help them leap several times their body length, and their brains get bigger at certain times of the year. As many homeowners know, squirrels are able to avoid many obstacles to reach a precious food source, and are aided by their good grip onto tree limbs, bird feeders, and other objects. Experts here describe how squirrels shift from being totally dependent on their mother to acquiring successful survival skills (and in Alaska and other frigid environments they often cope by hibernating, going without food for up to eight months). A solid profile of this little animal that brings the wild world of nature into our backyards, this is recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (S. Rees)