Squirreling Around

The squirrels are quite active during colder days, searching for food to keep warm. They’re about half the size they were this fall, & during the winter, when they are weaker, many of them get a disease called Mange. Caused by mites, the squirrel’s fur becomes patchy & begins to fall off. But so far most of the squirrels are still healthy.

Squirrels Gone Crazy

It’s fall, which means that the squirrels have officially gone crazy. They are desperate to get their little hands (or paws?) on anything they can, which can lead to a lot of flattened squirrels in the road. When they put their minds to gathering food, they really don’t think about anything else.

Sumo Squirrels

The squirrels in my yard have decided to begin training as professional wrestlers – they spend the whole day practicing on each other. They are probably worried about their supply of nuts running low, & since the competition is high, tolerance is low.                                                                The squirrels are also significantly plumper than they were earlier this year, as are the birds. Some of the animals must be about twice the size they were late last winter. In the fall & winter, squirrels appreciate foods high in protein such as nuts, to keep them warm & give them energy.

Squirrel Munchies

The squirrels love to sit in the grass in my yard & nibble away at fallen Elm tree branches. They strip the twigs of all their leaves, until nothing but a few veins of the leaves are left uneaten. The freshest ones they like the best, & hesitate to run if someone approaches, they are so intent on eating. It seems like in the summer they are less worried about their food supply, & seem more relaxed & less frantic in their search for things to eat. I’m sure this is because food is much more abundant. 

Squirrels eat almost anything, & are eaten by many predators too. They have a unique adaptation that helps to survive, however: if a predator grabs a squirrel by the tail, the squirrel’s tail will snap off, & the squirrel will run away. I’ve found squirrel tails lying on the sidewalk around my house several times, but with 

'this is the Elm leaf'

no trace of a dead squirrel nearby. After a while, the squirrel’s tail grows back, although it remains stumpy aft- 

'this is what the twig looks like after the squirrels have nibbled it'


Rain, Rain, & More Rain

It’s been raining hard here for several days now, & the sun is rarely out for more than a few moments a day. It’s also very cold, although it’s mid-May. I noticed that the birds really don’t mind though. They’re hopping around on the ground (& trying to get under the roof of the birdfeeder) with their feathers all fluffed out, searching for the least soggy seeds. The squirrels also are out, but I see them less often. I think they are mostly all curled up in their holes staying dry.

Squirrel behavior

"A gray squirrel foraging for food."

Gray squirrels are digging up nuts they’ve hidden over the winter, but couldn’t find & forgot about. (By the way, this is how many trees are planted.) Now that the snow has melted, they are easier to find, & the squirrels are in a frenzy flinging dirt all around to get to them. Squirrels prefer very high-energy foods. Peanuts are one of their favorites; so are sunflower seeds & corn. (Squirrels appear to prefer corn to many other foods, probably because it is very high in energy.) Squirrels will eat about anything though, such as suet, dried fruit, & pumpkins. They will eat bird’s eggs occasionally, but only as a last resort, if there is no other food to be found. They will even eat certain pieces of garbage, & as I have personally observed, they will eat electrical lights.  They often will feed in small groups of several squirrels; when there is a lot of food in one place, it doesn’t stay secret very long. When squirrels are startled, frightened, or in a fight with another squirrel, their tail is out very straight, & the fur is flattened down so the tale looks very long & skinny. When they are relaxed, their tale is up over their back & all fluffed out.