THE SQUIRREL: THE WALNUT-LOVER

In this section, we are going to learn about some of the very interesting qualities Allah has given squirrels. We are sure what you will read about these loveable little beings will also amaze your friends.

Squirrels live mostly in the forests of Europe and north America. They are about 25 centimetres (10 inches)long. That is the size of two of your hands. Behind them and often suspended over their backs are their tails, wide, upright and furry, and almost the same size as their length. There is surely a purpose why Allah, Who creates everything with a purpose, has given squirrels such a tail: Thanks to this long tail, a squirrel can jump from one tree to another without losing its balance.

The sharp little nails of a squirrel allow it to climb trees without difficulty. It can readily run along branches, hang upside-down and move while in this position. A grey squirrel in particular can jump from the tip of a branch to the branch of another tree four metres (13 feet)away. While jumping, it extends its fore and hind limbs and glides. Meanwhile, its flattened tail both maintains its balance and serves as a rudder to steer it. It can even experience free-fall from a branch nine metres (30 feet) above the ground and land smoothly on the ground on four feet.

TEETH THAT ARE RENEWED WHEN BROKEN

Like most other animals, squirrels do have methods of communication with one another. Red squirrels, for example, upon seeing an enemy, shake their tails and begin to make excited noises.

Squirrels, who can run on high tree branches also use their tails for balance. They change their direction by rotating their tails. The tails of squirrels serve the same function as the rudder of a vessel. The whiskers of a squirrel also play a major role in their keeping their balance. When squirrels' whiskers are cut, they cannot maintain their balance. This aside, they also use their whiskers to sense the objects around them at nights.

Children! Do you know that some squirrel species can also fly? All the "flying squirrel" species in Australia, whose heights vary from 45 to 90 centimetres (18 to 35 inches), live on trees. We cannot say that they really fly. They make long jumps from one tree to another. These creatures, who move among trees like gliders, have no wings but "flying membranes". The "sugar glider", a kind of flying squirrel with a flying membrane that extends from the fore to hind limbs, has a narrow body and long tassel-like hairs. In some species, the flying membrane is made up of furry skin. This membrane extends to the wrist of the forelimb. The gliding squirrel jumps from the trunk of a tree and can traverse about 30 metres (100 feet) at a time by means of a glide-like effect produced by its stretched membrane. In some cases, they can even make six successive glides, covering a total distance of 530 metres (1,740 feet).

When they don't move, the bodies of these small animals quickly lose heat and they become vulnerable to freezing. For this reason, sleeping is a great threat to squirrels. However, Allah has created various protective mechanisms for every species, enabling them to survive under unfavourable environmental conditions. During sleep, for instance, squirrels just curl their fluffy tails tightly around their bodies. The tail of the squirrel is just like a coat. On wintry days, their tails save them from freezing.

 

Now, let's consider once again what these loveable squirrels can accomplish. You already know that squirrels can perform gymnastic moves in the air quite easily, such as jumping from one tree to another without falling and, furthermore, target very tiny branches from a distance and skilfully hold on to them like a trapeze artist.

But how? Well, squirrels can achieve all these feats by using their hind limbs, their keen eyes, which make good adjustments for distances, their strong paws, and their tails, which enable them to maintain balance. But, have you ever thought who has given squirrels these features and taught them how to use them? Since it is impossible for a squirrel family to take a ruler and measure the heights of trees and lengths of branches, how do they measure distances as they jump from one tree to another? Furthermore, how do they jump and bounce so fast without getting hurt or crippled?

No doubt, it is Allah Who has created these animals together with the features they have and taught them how to use them. Furthermore, squirrels possess all the necessary skills and physical attributes to reach walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts, the hard-shelled fruits that grow on top of high trees. As with all other animals in nature, Allah specially created squirrels so that they can readily attain the kind of food they need.

In wintertime it becomes hard for squirrels to find food, so in summer they gather food to eat in the long, cold months ahead. Squirrels are among those living beings that store food for winter.

However, squirrels are very careful while gathering their food. They don't store fruits and meat, the kind of food that decays quickly. If they gathered them, they would become hungry in the wintertime. For this reason, squirrels collect only durable dry fruits like walnuts, hazelnuts and cones.

It is Allah Who gives this knowledge to squirrels at birth and enables them to take their nutrition. Here, we witness one of the attributes of Allah: Allah is "ar-Razzaq", that is, "the One Who continually provides sustenance to every living being He has created".

Squirrels store their food for winter by burying it in various places. Thanks to their perfect sense of smell, they can detect the smell of nuts covered by 30 centimetres (12 inches)of snow.

Squirrels carry their food in their sacs and take them to their nests. In their nests, there are more than one store, most of which they have forgotten. Certainly there is also a divine reason for this, because in time the dry fruits forgotten by squirrels under the earth grow into new trees.

RABBITS LIKE CARROTS!

Would you like to learn a bit more about rabbits, the loveable little living creatures we sometimes keep in our houses as pets? We always think of them with their snow-white fur, which we take such pleasure in stroking, and the way they gnaw carrots. Let's explore some of the interesting characteristics of these animals with which we are not familiar:

If you try to approach a rabbit, you will immediately recognise how fast it escapes. Do you know that these creatures can readily sense their enemies with their long ears even while their heads are down eating grass? Owing to this keen sense of hearing, you can hardly approach them without them noticing you. Before long, they will perceive a minor noise or movement and will run away.

Rabbits become 50 to 70 centimetres (19 to 27 inches) long when they grow into adults. Their hind limbs are longer and stronger than their forelimbs. That is why they can run 60 to 70 kilometres (37 to 43 miles)per hour and can leap six metres (20 feet) forward at a time. A rabbit can move faster than a car travelling within the city does.

All rabbits possess these characteristics at birth. Allah has created them as fast runners and thus enabled them to escape their predators easily.

What do you think the answer of a rabbit would be if we were to ask it, "Which food do you like most?" Yes, you are right! He would certainly say "carrots." (Meanwhile, remember that carrots are good for our eyes.) Well, do you know that rabbits live in the warrens they dig under the ground, and that carrots grow towards the depths of the earth? As you may understand from this question, carrots have been created in the most appropriate way to meet rabbits' needs.

Also for us, human beings, Allah has made everything easy to use. Take, for instance, the orange you eat in wintertime. If it were not in segments, it would be very hard for you to eat it, because it is so juicy. However, Allah, Who has created everything you see around you, has also created this delicious fruit full of vitamin C in its segmented form, ready to eat, in its special package. Now back to rabbits! A rabbit can easily gnaw a carrot with its continually growing front teeth that give it such a lovely look.

Apart from their nutritional needs, Allah has given living creatures many features that make life easy for them. Various rabbit species with different characteristics live on earth. Rabbits living in cold regions, for example, are mostly white in colour. This is an important feature that makes them invisible on the snow and enables them to hide themselves effortlessly. Wild rabbits, which are relatively bigger than other rabbits, have longer limbs and ears. The desert American rabbit, on the other hand, has quite large ears. These ears help rabbits to keep themselves cool.

In nature, most animals live in particular territories they mark out for themselves. This is similar to us living in our comfortable homes surrounded by our family members. Animals and animal groups usually avoid entering other animals' territories. "Leaving a scent" is a method employed by animals to mark their territories. Gazelles, for instance, leave a substance with a scent similar to tar on long thin branches and grasses to mark their territory. This substance, secreted from the glands under their eyes, informs other gazelles that this field is already occupied. Reindeer, on the other hand, have scent glands on the tip of their hind feet with which they mark their territory. Rabbits mark their territories with glands on their chins.

As we have seen, Allah has created animals with very interesting and important characteristics. Learning all these makes us astonished at the flawless creation of Allah. We remember that Allah is our Creator and we feel grateful to Him. Remember that Allah has commanded people to think about His blessings and be thankful. In a verse of the Qur'an, Allah informs us that He will reward those who are thankful:

We will recompense the thankful. (Surah Al 'Imran: 145)

Children! So, you must also remember to be thankful for the blessings and beauty with which you are surrounded.