Emma Jane Vignola, naturalist with the Capital Regional District, shows off a (mounted) eastern grey squirrel. Vignola will lead the Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich this Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Emma Jane Vignola, naturalist with the Capital Regional District, shows off a (mounted) eastern grey squirrel. Vignola will lead the Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich this Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Squirrels star of guided walk in Saanich park

Going Squirrelly Guided Walk happening Sunday in Francis/King Regional Park

When Emma Jane Vignola looks at squirrels, she sees more than just the cuddly critters, whose antics generate massive viewership numbers on social media platforms.

For Vignola, squirrels are animals of mystery with familiar but surprising traits.

“You think you know everything about a squirrel, but there are actually some pretty interesting facts,” said Vignola, who is a park naturalist with the Capital Regional District (CRD). “They are not as simple as they seem.”

RELATED: Oak Bay man saves baby squirrel in distress

RELATED: Squirrel squatter trashes Oak Bay home while couple on vacation

Here is one such fact that Vignola teases. “Squirrels have similar nutritional needs that we do, but they don’t have access to a grocery store,” she said. “So they need to get everything from the forest. Squirrels actually need large predators in the forest like cougars, to meet all their dietary needs. And not necessarily [in the form of] food.”

While readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions, those who want to learn more about this and other facts can join Vignola on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 11:30 for a Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich.

“This is a really special place, because it is a really great example of coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem,” she said. “So we wanted to teach people about squirrels because it is a real great way for them to connect to the park, to the forest, and learn more about the animals that live there.”

The area is actually home to two species of squirrels: the Eastern Grey Squirrel, a transplant from eastern Canada, and the local Red Squirrel.

Not only do they differ in size, with the Grey Squirrel larger, but also in behaviour, she said.

“The Grey Squirrels are a lot less shy,” said Vignola. “The Red Squirrels are a lot more cautious.”

The eastern variety, in other words, is more comfortable around humans, a characteristic common among animals that humans have introduced into unfamiliar ecosystems.

Squirrels, contrary to popular perception, also do not hibernate. “We will probably see squirrels on the program — hopefully,” she said.

Should participants spot one, they will see an athletic, even charismatic animal, that is an integral part of the local ecosystem. Anyone interested in the walk should bring sturdy shoes and dress for the weather, while leaving their pets at home.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

Westcoast Impressions plans to organize a COVID-19 friendly version of the event in 2021 at the Mary Winspear Centre after having cancelled the 2020 version against the backdrop of pandemic. The opening night of the 2019 Sidney Street Market featured more than 150 vendors lined along Beacon Avenue. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney Street Market plans for 2021 return at Mary Winspear Centre

Tentative plan calls for the event’s return to Beacon Avenue after COVID-19 pandemic

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read