Here At the Edge of the Wood no one is fooled by this fake but it is good reminder that squirrels are flesh and blood not mere cardboard cut-outs. Thoreau writes in Walden, “The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.” So slow down and drive the speed limit! You can smell the roses along the way and spare a furry friend his life.
Here at the edge of the wood we realize not everyone gets to spend quality time in the forest and learn who is who. In New York City a family found what they presumed was a puppy in a gutter on Houston Street. After raising it for a month, they realized it was a squirrel. Luckily for the infant, puppy milk formula is exactly what baby squirrels need and this little squirrel thrived and found her way to a wildlife rehabilitator. A “rehabber” is a licensed do-gooder who can legally take in an array of orphaned, sick, or injured creatures and care for them until they can be released. They are part vet tech, animal psychologist and tournament winning cheerleader. Have a question about a wild creature? Call a rehabber. There really is no need to get your puppies mixed up with your squirrels.
We have noticed that not all gray squirrels are gray. Some have been sporting lovely cinnamon touches around the face, sides and sometimes paws. Are they changing into red squirrels before our eyes? Barbara Stewart writes in the NYT, “A new species of squirrel? Not exactly. According to Alexander R. Brash, who oversees the rangers at the city’s Parks Department, they are actually a variant on the common Eastern gray squirrel, ubiquitous in city parks and trees.” She goes on to reassure us that black-coated squirrels are gray squirrels, dark brown-coated squirrels are gray squirrels, and cinnamon-colored squirrels are gray squirrels. Which only goes to show you can’t judge a squirrel, or anyone, by their cover.
We notice the marked preference the squirrels have for some foods. Some love the nuts, some the dried fruit, some are mesmerized by strawberries. A gray squirrel is far more likely to bury a red-oak acorn, which is rich in fat, but a little bit bitter, than eat a white-oak acorn immediately, which is much sweeter, according to Dr Peter Smallwood. Does this mean squirrels have a sweet tooth? Well, we at the edge of the wood are just going to peel back the wrapper of a squirrel nut zipper and think about that.
The squirrels would like to congratulate Mars Rover Curiosity for a smooth and safe landing. Here at the edge of the wood we are very happy for all the scientists at NASA for their great accomplishment. Are there squirrels on Mars? Sadly no. But if there were, most likely they would be red squirrels and not a grey squirrel.