Basic Squirrel 101

on Friday, May 22, 2009

Today, a work colleague came up to ask me to identify a squirrel. He said that he heard that I was into squirrels. I was taken aback. Evidently my secret identity as the Lone Grey Squirrel was not so secret after all and someone has made the connection between my internet alter ego and my real identity. Hmmmm. In hindsight, I'm so glad I decided against posting up the photo of me dressed as a squirrel wearing only a red underwear and a cape. Those things have a way of coming back to haunt you.

The other reason I was taken aback was that I did not know the answer! Shock horror! Anyway, I did a little research but I think I now know the answer. Apparently, he took a photograph of a squirrel which he thought was a plantain squirrel (which is common in these parts) but whereas the plantain squirrel was marked, this was not marked. His question was what squirrel looks like an unmarked plantain squirrel.

The Plantain Squirrel has a grey body and a light brown belly with a white and a black stripe between the two. The plain Slender Squirrel is slightly smaller has a grey body and a pale belly and no markings.

Anyway, since there has been a lot of interest on squirrels lately from readers and visitors to this blog, I have decided to provide a basic introduction to the world of squirrels or Squirrel 101.

There are 365 species of squirrel (one for each day of the year!) which belong to seven families. They can be roughly divided into tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Grey squirrels are tree squirrels and the only group worth discussing further. Ground squirrels may be cute clowns but basically they have become confused between burying nuts in the ground and burying themselves in the ground. On the other hand, flying squirrels are just a bunch of self-absorbed show-offs. So we will now just concentrate on Tree Squirrels.

Tree Squirrels can also be divided into several main groups.

Grey Squirrels
Originally from North America (ranging from the Deep South and all the way to Canada), the grey squirrel has made its way to U.K. and even Italy where they are out competing the local squirrels due to their strong work ethic and cuteness. Grey Squirrels are the liberals and moderates of the squirrel world. Grey squirrels mantra is that "There is no black or white. Instead much of life is grey". Grey squirrels really range from pepper and salt color, all the way to melanistic black. The paler squirrels are in the Deep South while most of the black squirrels are in Canada. The reason for this is unclear but some say that this is due to the large number of black slave squirrels that were smuggled to freedom in Canada by the Underground Railway in the 19th century.

Red Squirrels
Red Squirrels are found in many parts of the world but the populations of major importance are found in Europe. The European Reds are basically protectionists, left wing, communist unionists who are always protesting about the more hard working Greys!

British Reds have similar political positions but they are better characterised by other major characteristics. Specifically, English Reds are basically soccer fans. Some support the "Reds" (i.e. Liverpool) while others support the "Red Devils" (i.e. Manchester United).

Scottish Reds instead are more concerned with Scottish independence being as they are the proud descendents of the original red-haired Pict squirrels, begorrah. These squirrels were never defeated by the Roman Legions!

Non-Aligned Squirrels
The remaining world squirrels can basically non-aligned, apolitical, third world, hard working squirrels with low carbon pawprints. They are just happy to be left alone and undisturbed.

Disclaimer: No squirrels were injured in this parody. The only thing hurt was the truth.


Owen said...

Everything I always wanted to know about squirrels but was afraid to ask ! You have reminded me why I read blogs... which is to complete my education which was left sadly full of holes even after four years of university and some graduate courses... And what about chipmunks? Where do chipmunks fit in? A little evolutionary background would be helpful too... like what is the legend about how red squirrels became red ? (anything to do with why some people have red hair? do orangutangs have anything to do with it) And is there any evolutionary proof behind that pesky persistent rumor that squirrels are just rats with bushy tails??? Finally, other than in Appalachia, where squirrel stew is considered a delicacy, are there any other places in the world where squirrels are fair game for the human dinner table? ;-)

Janice Thomson said...

I loved this LGS! As Owen said everything we always (or maybe didn't) want to know LOL.
There is one lonely grey squirrel around here but one doesn't get to see him often probably because of all the dogs and cats.

citizen of the world said...

That was fun. The only kind of squirrel we have here are your kind, but they sure are cute.

Margaret Pangert said...

Witty, clever, and informative! That was a fun romp through squirrel land. I noticed when I lived in California the grey squirrels were smaller and scrawnier than the flourishing specimens I see here in New Jersey. Also, another category that could be added is the bipolar squirrel. We have one who every year at the beginning of summer picks green leaves and builds a nest. Crazy.

mago said...

I think the Greys are working on a plan of world domination ...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Too many questions, my man! To answer them all would require at least another 4 years of University education! Just remember the 3 following facts;
1. Squirrels are cute and are your friends (rumors that we are planning world domination are just exaggerations).
2. It is good karma to feed squirrels.
3. Squirrels taste bad and should not be eaten.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. Say, have you ever written a poem about a squirrel?

Yes. Cute. And definitely not planning world conquest.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Grey Squirrels in California are forced to work long hours on low paying jobs while waiting to make it big in Hollywood.

Where did you get that idea!??! Please read all the denials in the other replies.

Jo said...

Omigosh, everything I always wanted to know about squirrels -- and even more!

The only kind of squirrels we have here in Vancouver are cheeky squirrels. :-)

Marja said...

Ah very interesting LGS I learned a lot again I met a red squirrel a little one. He came very close.Probably you belong to the grey ones? Never met one

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I think all Vancouverites are elementally a cheeky lot!

I have to say that I know almost nothing about NZ squirrels.

blackcrag said...

Since this is so well written and researched, I hesitiate to point out your Scots squirrel has a wee too much Irish in him, faith and begorrah!

I have seen the Grey, the British Red and the local greys and Blacks. they seem very hesitant and shy around me, always running away and hiding when I try to make friends.

The blacks up here seem bigger than the rest of their cousins... except maybe the British Red I saw. He was a big one, but I was also smaller then.

(Thanks for your good wishes and prayers)

squirrelmama said...

LGS, word has it that your very excellent explanation of squirrelology has been given approval by the Squirrel Liberation Army. You should be very flattered, I heard they are planning to make you a commandant!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thank you for pointing out my mistake. A humbled squirrel learns a lesson. And I apologise to the Irish and the Scottish for the mix up. Would you happen to know what equivalent Scottish phrase I could have used?

Anyhoo, legend has it that the Picts were in Ireland at one early period.

I'm a guessing you are Irish?

By the way, the largest squirrel is the Indian or Malabar Giant Squirrel which can grow to 1 m long.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I accept the commandant post with honor. Um, does this come with more walnut rations?

Lisa said...

Hi there. I came upon your blog and I have to tell you, I LOVE squirrels! I actually picked one up from the side of the road once, it had been hit by a car and was dying but I picked him up and put him under a tree and his fur wasn't soft at all! It felt scratchy like a broom. Anyway, I stayed with him until he died and then I went to work, I was late. I felt that helping the squirrel to cross over was more important. So that is my squirrel story. We also have LOTS of them in our yard and we feed them every day. I just found your blog but will be reding it, getting to know you and more about squirrels. I am happy to have found your blog. Lisa

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for comimg by. Squirrel lovers ALWAYS welcome. See you back soon.

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