Tag Archives: Rodent
Squirrels are definitely funny things. I am not a big fan of rodents, though I did learn to love guinea pigs and considered them more, well, like cats, but squirrels…. well the dog in me just thinks they are stupid.
We toss peanuts out back for the silly squirrels and they are usually gone within an hour. They like to steal the peanut holder along with the peanuts and hide things all over the place. Because of the dogs, our squirrels have learned to stay up in the trees, in the fenced pool area, or high on-top of the fence. The minute the dogs come into the yard the first thing they do is rodent/duck/fox patrol. “Where are they? Let’s run to the big tree and see if they are there? Maybe they’re by the pool where the birdies feed?” We used to have many more squirrels before the neighbor across the street deforested their property, cutting down like 30 old growth pine trees (to build a second driveway and an out building for the business he is not suppose to be running out of his home) and also before the red foxes moved into the area (due to fragmentation (read as: over building and destroying of natural habit) all around the peninsula I live on). There used to be dozens of bunny rabbits on our property too, but, sadly, they have been gone now for several years, since the foxes and raccoons came to town. There are still a few surviving squirrel however, though not in the numbers there used to be. So we feed them. We feel sad for them, and also, maybe we feed them so they leave the bird feeders alone (good luck with that one).
Squirrels can be found in almost every habitat throughout the world, except the coldest places. They generally live about six year, but “most urban squirrels do not reach their first birthday. This is due not to predators, but rather to automobiles. Compare this to its rural counterpart, which often perishes from lack of food.” (Squirrel History, squirrels.org)
When I was little (probably about 7 or 8), I befriended a Squirrel in my parent’s backyard. I named him ‘Sunday,’ because every Sunday I would take my Mother’s expensive nut mix (Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, etc.) and feed them to ‘Sunday.’ (She was not happy about that.) He would take them right out of my hand (freaking out my parents) and then proceed to hide them throughout the yard. Now all these years I believed he hid the nuts to come back to. I would go back weeks later and check and the nuts would be gone, so I felt that he had food for the winter. But in doing research for this blog I discovered that I have been under a misconception my whole life. ‘Sunday’ tricked me. “Squirrels have been known to pretend to bury the object if they feel that they are being watched. They do this by preparing the spot as usual, for instance digging a hole or widening a crack, miming the placement of the food while actually concealing it in their mouth, and then covering up the “cache” as if they had deposited the object.(Steve Grant, “The Squirrel’s Bag Of Tricks: They Can’t Get Out Of The Way Of Cars, But Other Behaviors Demonstrate Advanced Thinking (for A Rodent)“, The Hartford Courant, October 21, 2004.)
No matter what the experts say, I think I will keep the romantic idea of him burying my gifts and then coming back to feed his family, instead of my new found knowledge that he was just a tricksters.
Like I said, I think they are stupid; but cute.