Squirrels - The Next Generation

on Saturday, March 29, 2008

Left: Spikey on our little wooden walkway
Below: Loonie feeding
All photos by LGS

One early spring day, I was sitting on a small lawn chair on my tiny wooden boardwalk just outside the entrance to my subterranean Hobbit-like dwelling place. It had been a long winter but now most of the snow had melted or was melting and there was a lovely sunbeam right on where i was sitting. Suddenly, I heard some thing fall on to the boardwalk behind me like sand and pebbles dropping from a height. I lazily looked up and I saw two fresh looking furry faces looking back at me, peeping out from under the eaves.

They were both golden colored like their mother, Loonie. I was thrilled to see them and they seem quite amused at the greater world which they were perhaps viewing for the first time from the safety of their high vantage point. My wife and I named them Goldie and Blondie. I know, I know. Not very imaginative. Still it was a thrill to see the offspring of Spikey and Loonie, the next generation.

On another warmer Spring day, I was again on my little foldable lawn chair on my boardwalk when Spikey appeared and went all round me checking things out. Normally, he would then head for the peanuts stacked in piles on the boardwalk. This time he disappeared back into one of the evergreen bushes near the wall but when he emerged, he had his two girls in tow.

Spikey came to introduce his family to me. The shy girls would follow close behind him wherever he went. You could see that he was teaching the girls that it was okay to come near this giant creature and take the peanuts. I was beaming.

Parenting did not come easily for Spikey. He struggled to control some of his instincts. On this occasion for example, he showed Goldie a pile of nuts. However, when Goldie tried to eat a nut, Spikey reacted by using his front paws and pushing down on Goldie's face until she dropped the nut. This happened a few times until Goldie stopped trying to take a nut from the pile. Spikey then sat down and started eating his nuts but Goldie persisted by putting her face right up next to Spikey's. Eventually, Spikey relented and actually handed the nut in his mouth over to her. He then hopped off and left the pile of nuts to Goldie. Ah, the sacrifices that parents have to make.

Another interesting thing happened just a couple of days later. The two girls appeared on the wooden boardwalk by themselves. Without Spikey there, they seemed less certain about approaching me and my pile of nuts. They sat a safe distance away and looked at me. I tried to entice them by throwing nuts at them but as they eat the nuts, slowly draw them nearer by throwing the nuts closer and closer to myself. This was working until one stray nut bounced along the wooden walkway and jumped out into the freshly growing grass, just a few centimeters away.

This seem to perplex the girls. They went right up to the edge of the boardwalk but refused to step on the grass. Instead they paced excitedly up and down, keeping an eye on that peanut morsel just a short distance away. Finally Blondie tried to get the nut. She dug her hind claws into grip holds in the wooden platform and tried to stretch her body as far as possible over the edge of the boardwalk without touching the ground. She succeeded and got her peanut reward. I purposely threw a few of these peanuts into the grass. Each time one of the girls took up this stretching posture to retrieve the nut. I then realised that they had not yet been taken by Spikey or Loonie onto the grass. They felt safe on the wooden boardwalk but they were not sure about the grass.

I found this amusing and so surprising. I would have thought that grass would have been something natural to squirrels but it would appear from my observations, they had to learn about it.

Although the girls would later not be as regular as Spikey in visiting, I always felt a particular thrill when they did come. It was almost like having grandchildren!


Russell said...

Mr. Lone Grey Squirrel... Hi! I always enjoy your comments and FINALLY made it over to your blog.

You must have a pretty good way with animals to have squirrels eating out of your hands! The one squirrel looks like a black squirrel.

Out here in Iowa, we have some black squirrels but they are rare. A town on the western border, Council Bluffs, actually has a festive or some sort of celebration for the large number of black squirrels in their town!

Take care and know that I always enjoy your fun and witty comments I see so often!!

daysgoby said...

Such characters they all are!

(You too, C!)

A Happy Downtowner said...

Awww.... what a beautiful story, so well written and it was a pleasure to read. Thank you for the smile this morning grandpa!

Gledwood said...

I know you can get albino practically anything... but I've seen BLACK "grey" squirrels more than once now (in photographs)... now LoneGrey can I pose you a teaser (in all seriousness so please get back to me asap if you can...)...

Re my place:~

I'm getting a new room in the same house.

Lots of clutter.

Do you agree I should just leave what I don't want even if it's half my clothes etc. and just move "lite" into the new room?...

Please RSVP ASAP at my gledwood2.blogspot blog:~ I'm desperate for advice! Many thanxx

Gerbil said...

We have one very bold, very fat grey squirrel who likes to nap on my deck, but he chases any other squirrels out of the yard.

squirrelmama said...

The good news is that with Loonie and Spikey and their two gorgeous girls, you are "LONE" no more, LGS. You are in fabulous company. I have known the joy of having squirrels and their next generations as well (our resident momma was a dominatrix named Little Notch Ear, and she begat Sylvie who begat Silas Marner - but that is another story for another day). I have never, in all my years though, experienced the joy of having a mother squirrel present her young. That is trust beyond words. Good going, LGS!

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh these guys are downright adorable Lgs. What an honor that they trust you so much to bring their young around you. I never realized a black squirrel would mate with a grey one. How interesting the things animals can teach us.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Synchronous squirrel possts! Someone suggested that my chubby squirrel might be pregnant - I hope I get some suirrelly babies around my place, too!

meggie said...

What a delightful post. Since I have never seen a real squirrel I find them fascinating & reading about them is very interesting, & amusing.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Well, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. The black and the "salt& pepper" or golden squirrels are all variants of the same species, commonly called the grey squirrels. For some reason, in Canada, the black or the melanistic variant is more abundant while in the USA, the golden variant is more abundant, with a few local exceptions as you had mentioned. Now that you have come by, don't be a stranger. Actually, I don't always do squirrel posts.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

They are, aren't they?


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Black and golden versions are natural in the grey squirrel population.

As for your question, I think moving is a good opportunity to get rid of things that you no longer want. But make sure it isn't something you need or will need. Clothing especially winter clothing will be useful again even it doesn't seem like it now. Otherwise, yes, move light, use the opportunity to start anew.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I had one of those too. We called him Speedy for his speed but he was a bigger build than most of the other squirrels and was even brave enough to take on birds larger than himself.

Your squirrel family must be full of interesting characters. Hope to read about some of them some day.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

as I explained to Russell above, the black and the golden ones are natural variants within the population of the one species, the grey squirrel.

SNAP! I'm off to read your squirrely post. How exciting.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I guess your equivalent are possums. Not so endearing, are they?

MedStudentWife said...

Grandad LGS...hmmmm.....

The squirrels are only just starting to make an appearance, here in Paradise; mostly in spots that are getting radiant heat from the sun.

Another couple of weeks or so and I expect they'll all largely be up and around.

On a limb with Claudia said...

We have baby squirrelly's too. We took down one of their main route to our yard (an over grown cherry tree) and they were confused for about 30 minutes. The big ones and the little ones paced around until a new route became apparent.

They are amazing - and so are you! There's a little award for you at my place

Ruth W. said...

I agree, they are very intelligent animals and I have a great time watching them in the summer. I just wished they would leave my tomatoes alone!!!

I will try to get a picture of my albino squirrel I have here.

Ruth D~ said...

This is so awesome to read about. So beautiful to be part of the animal world, to be trusted . . . So I guess you're not the "lone" squirrel any more?

Margaret said...

Squirrels are so much fun. Almost like birds, they are so free.

Right now, they're having a great time where I work everyday. It's mating season and the chase is on.

They totally amaze me also. A few times I've seen a squirrel fall at least 100ft down from a pole or tree after loosing it's grip. Only to scramble back up again.

I'll have to take a few pics of some Savannah, GA squirrels for you.

Dr.John said...

Wow! Grandfather to a squirrel. How lucky can you get.

Odat said...

What a cute story.....did they ever get out on the lawn?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

My menagerie of squirrels are all from Daly in Paradise.

Thanks. Will come round to check it out. Also I will eventually reply to your make a wish post.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

ruth w,
You know, I have not yet seen an albino squirrel. Look forward to your pictures.

ruth d,
trust given to us by animals is just as precious as anything else.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

look forward to seeing my cousins from Savannah.

dr. john,
all grandparents are blessed. They get to enjoy and spoil their grandchildren without having to do much of the hard work. Same difference.

Yes they eventually do.

Claire said...

Aw, they're so adorable! Forgive me, but is Spikey the black one? You see, to me it appears that the golden squirrel has male anatomy. I know blogger sometimes messes up the layout. This will sound perverted but my squirrels hang upside down to eat at my bird feeder and it's very near my kitchen window, so I'm often treated to a close-up of their nether regions. Really, I'm not into squirrels That Way :)

MedStudentWife said...

LGS... going to have to check the "squirrel hood" out, on Daly - once the weather gets better.. raining today (YEAH !!! NO snow).

Maybe I'll take my camera and send you a pict or two :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Spikey's the black one. As to whether, the picture of Loonie is that of a male, I don't know. It looks like a female to me. But mostly, I consider her female by behaviour. E.g. She stays close to the young girls while Spikey does the foraging. I might be wrong but I hope not! Kinda spoils the narration. :)

Daly & King Edward. Opposite a church. Happy photo hunting.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
my backyard said...

What adorable children!

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