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squirrelly friends

While I do have some of those, today’s post is really about those entertaining bits of fur that dash about frantically in yards and, unfortunately, across busy roads. There’s nothing so lazy and delightful as relaxing and watching squirrels romp. The little hams are born entertainers, even if they are a bit hyper.

I rarely catch them on camera since by the time I’m set to shoot they are elsewhere. Amazing speeds, deft climbers and jumpers on branches seemingly too thin to support them, and ever the opportunists define what squirrelness is all about. I’ve ridden my bike on trails before where I’ve almost run over the little guys, not from any effort on my part, but from that quirk of squirreliness that makes them dart out near danger, dart back seeming to seek cover or safety, then at the last moment inexplicably dart back out and nearly get squashed (or worse). And I can’t count the times I’ve held my breath while driving my car and encountering confused squirrels (but amazingly, have never run over one).

The little guy caught here on “film” was brazen and begging at Beck’s Prime during spring break. I shot perhaps 10 frames of him, but only a couple came out! The rest show either a blurry fuzzy thing, or half a tail, etc. This treerat, though, had attitude. From his stance in the top photo he seems to say, “You wanna piece of me?” The Robert DeNiro of squirreldom, I guess.

We used to spend lots of time at the old house watching squirrels play with the box feeder we put up for their nourishment (and our entertainment) close to our living room windows. It was a wooden affair with a Plexiglas front, a small perching ledge, and a hinged top. The operating premise was thus: a) squirrel sits on ledge, b) squirrel stands on hind legs and pushes lid open with nose, and c) squirrel then dines on the reward of morsely bits of corn and peanuts. Most of the time it worked well, but occasional we witnessed a intellectually challenged squirrel who would require many attempts before figuring out how this simple box worked.

We laughed until we cried the time this one squirrel crawled inside the box since the food was low, and sat inside contentedly chewing away with the lid closed. The alpha male of our treetops, sensing a chance to show his supremacy, jumped and landed squarely on the lid, trapping the other squirrel inside. What ensued was a squabble between the captured squirrel, making unbelievable noises and scratching furiously inside, while the alpha male sat on top mostly looking around and ignoring the obvious. Every now and then he’d peer down at his captive and gloat, then resume his grooming and feigned indifference. After watching this for awhile we felt sorry for the dominated squirrel and a quick tap on the window glass changed the scene.

What’s your favorite squirrel story?

1 comment to squirrelly friends

  • I love that first pic! Dave from Via Negativa recently blogged about squirrels (you can read his post here). In that entry he suggested that the Buddhist term “monkey-mind” be translated as “squirrel-mind” here in North America, where squirrels perfectly illustrate the crazy way our minds leap from thought to thought, zigzagging from one notion to another, etc.

    One a group of red squirrels ganged up on me. They’re smaller than gray squirrels but much more feisty, and I was scooping out corn from a bin they’d long tried to squirrel into. But I’ll save that story for a future blogpost! :smile: