We’ve had warmer winters here in southern Indiana for the past few years, and that has made the residents of the Animal Kingdom who share this section of heaven with us more visible and active.
This is not a story about climate change; we’ll let the universe speak for itself in that regard. This is about how my husband and I are being held hostage by Bullwinkle’s pal Rocket J. Squirrel and his obscenely large family.
We’ve renamed our place Squirrel Vista because of the overpopulation of the little brown devils.
These cannot be ordinary squirrels. They are super-sized. Stem to stern, I think they must be about 18 inches long and fat as Jabba the Hut from “Star Wars.”
Our property sits in between two streets, a woods and another home. Is it possible that our yard is the spiritual center for all the squirrels in the Midwest? Are they drawn here by some special aura like the Native Americans came to the Mississippi at Cahokia?
I have a theory, because this year the squirrel population seems exponentially larger.
Last year when my mother died, some dear friends gave us some lovely chimes which now hang in front of our house. Because of their location in a courtyard, airflow comes into that captured space, and the chimes are frequently making music.
Look out the window at any time and you can see a vista of squirrels, standing up at attention like the Prairie dogs in an ancient Disney movie that your high school history teacher showed you by reel-to-reel on days he didn’t want to teach.
I think the squirrels are mesmerized by the chimes, and it draws them to us, to the place my husband has named “Squirrel Vista.” And we, squirrely as we are, are their spiritual leaders.
Fun Facts about Squirrels from Squirrels.org
- The squirrel’s common name can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, where Aristotle used the word “skiouros,” meaning shade, while “our” means tail. Thus the meaning “he who sits in the shadow of his tail” was recorded. Centuries later the French created a noun “esquirel” to describe this animal. From this the present word “squirrel” was derived.
- The average Gray squirrel is fifteen inches long and weighs about one pound. Its diet consists of nuts, seeds and fruit. They will eat scrapes from the trash including bread, meat and even snack food. The life span of the squirrel is approximately six years. Most urban squirrels do not reach their first birthday. This is due not to predators, but rather to automobiles. Compared to its rural counterpart, which often parishes from the lack of food.
According to Wikipedia: Tree squirrels include over a hundred species that are found on all continents except Antarctica, and are the members of the squirrel family most commonly referred to as “squirrels”.
Scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis
Higher classification: Sciurinae