Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is It Really A Squirrel?

That's what I wondered when I looked at this little creature that was perched on top of this big rock. Is it really a squirrel, or is it a chipmunk or something? It looked too small to be any squirrel I've ever seen. I thought maybe it was a chipmunk, but they don't have bushy tails.

That's why I didn't think this was a squirrel at first. It was only about half the size of most squirrels. I thought maybe it was a baby. It was the small size and the white belly that fooled me. I've never seen a squirrel like this before, and I haven't seen one since.

This post is actually an extension of a post from a while back. It was a good one that I wanted to update. Back then there weren't very many people to see it, but I really liked it. I'll put a link to the older post at the bottom of this one, so you can see what it was about. But right now it's time for some newer information about this little creature.

Back when I was looking at the totem pole in the picture above, and realizing how I needed to look a little closer at things, I spotted what looked like a little squirrel perched on top of the boulder behind it. If this was a squirrel, it was the only squirrel I've ever seen that has a white belly. Most squirrels around here are brown all over, but lately I've been seeing a lot of black squirrels.

It looked a lot like a chipmunk. The size was right for a chipmunk. It was really small. You can see exactly what I mean by taking a closer look at the picture above. It also had very faint stripes like a chipmunk, but you can't really see them well in my pictures. I was not at all sure.

After quite some time I found out that it was indeed a squirrel. It was an American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus). The features match perfectly. This type of squirrel is very small, but bigger than a chipmunk. Their ears are bigger in relation to it's body than most squirrels, and especially in winter they have tufts of fur growing at the ends of their ears.

Something I didn't mention in the original post was that I had my little friend Alice with me. She's the one who first spotted this squirrel. She seems to have a knack for spotting the strangest things, so I take her along whenever I can. Since I just talked about the subject with someone, I'll say that she's more Wonderland Alice than Cooper Alice.

Anyway, when we tried to move a little closer to the squirrel, it ran behind the tree. I couldn't see where it went, even though I was closer now. We both thought we had lost it forever, but then it came sneaking back around the side of the tree. It had climbed the tree in an attempt to escape. It circled back around, and was now hanging from the side of the tree spying on us.

There it was, close up, looking right at me. I got a few more pictures before it scurried down off the tree, across the sidewalk, and into some bushes. Then I saw it once more before it ran off for good. I tried to get some of it while it ran, but it was really too quick for me. I remember the whole thing being another great everyday adventure.

An interesting note to add is that the technical family name for squirrels is Sciuridae. I read somewhere that both names come from the Greek name skiouros. That word is also thought to possibly be the origin of the word scurry. If that's true, it's a pretty fitting coincidence.

For me all these different squirrels have been pretty interesting. I wonder what kind of squirrel I might see next. Hopefully I can get pictures.

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  1. Red Squirrels are noisy little fur bearing varmints. Did it chatter at you? They are also quite a pest around here. They like to get in the eaves and attics of houses and build nests.

  2. This red squirrel was pretty quiet. It's the only one I've ever seen. I don't think it's a native around here.

  3. I've been reading a few of your posts and love them. I happen to love red squirrels but haven't seen any in two years. I think the gray ones have taken over this area and driven the Reds away. I miss them. They are so cute. One year I had the babies here too. They were so cute to watch. I'm going to post an old video I took of two Red squirrels playing in my old planter. I just posted my skunk video so will wait till tomorrow. Love your blog Ratty!!

  4. Ginnymo - I don't see many red squirrels here either. Actually just two so far, but they're out there. I'll make sure I check out both videos, they sound pretty cool.