Picture by Jay Wilson.
What’s up with the squirrels? Recently I drove from my house to the grocery store a distance of about a mile, and saw three dead squirrels in the road. What’s up? Squirrel behavior is difficult to predict or understand. They live primarily in the trees but this time of year they are gathering nuts, acorns, etc. to bury in the ground and other places so they can reclaim them when needed this winter. That is, if they don’t get enough to eat from my bird feeders! Interestingly the habit of burying seeds and acorns is beneficial behavior in that they are planting trees!
And, not only do they eat the food in the bird feeder, they have been known to eat the feeder as well! What’s up? Squirrels are rodents and like all rodents their teeth grow constantly so they are continually gnawing to keep those teeth in check.
Some people enjoy feeding the birds. Others enjoy trying to outsmart squirrels. Sometimes these are the same people! It’s an interesting pastime.
The latin name of the Eastern Grey Squirrel is Sciurus Carolinensis. Sciurus means shade tail or “he who sits in the shade of his tail”. I’m sure we’ve all seen the squirrels sitting with the tail over their heads- making shade or keeping the rain off.
The other squirrel common in our area is the Southern Flying Squirrel, however, because it is nocturnal we hardly ever see them. They have habits similar to the Grey Squirrel of eating nuts, seeds etc. and live in holes in trees or nests built of leaves and branches in trees. Another rodent cousin is the Eastern Chipmunk which is smaller than a squirrel and lives mostly on and in the ground. Another interesting difference is that chipmunks hibernate. True hibernation means the body temperature lowers, and breathing and heart rates slow dramatically.
Do you have a squirrel or chipmunk picture to share? Let us know!