The Red Squirrel is one of the some 40 different species of the squirrel. Although it has many close relatives, there are many things about the Red Squirrel that make it both unique and fascinating.

Background

The Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) can be traced through the classifications as follows:

What They Look Like

The Red Squirrel can be found in Alaska, across Canada, the northeast United States south to the Appalachian states and also northern Rocky Mountains. They are about 6 to 9 inches in length with a bushy tail slightly shorter than their body - however the tail is not as bushy or thick as many other squirrel species. Their fur ranges in shades of red (who would have guessed?!) between light and dark red and can sometimes be affected by the current season. Their bellies are cream or white in color and often have a matching cream or white tip on the tail as well as a white band outlining their large black eyes.

It's Chow Time!

The Red Squirrel are very open when it comes to their diet, they are not picky eaters. They are also known for storing more food than an animal of their size could consume, making them what is called "wasteful" savers. For starters, some of the things they will not hesitate to eat are seeds, nuts, fruit, bark, tree sap, insects, reptiles, fungi (which includes mushrooms that are poisonous for humans), pine cones, eggs, mice, and young birds and rabbit. When it finds mushrooms, it will rip them into strips and dry them out. It will also harvest green pine cones from trees and eat the seeds that are on the ends of the petals. Even though most of the food that they bury will mostly likely remain where it was hidden, this makes Red Squirrels a huge helper in spreading seeds and creating plenty of new trees.

Quite the Architect

Red Squirrels likes to builds nests in the forks of trees and puts together a slew of materials to build quite the castle. These nests are made of layers each containing things that are beneficial to its layer and serving a purpose. The outside structure is usually made of twigs and needles, also have grass and leaves woven in as well. There is also an inside sleeping chamber that is roughly 4 to 6 inches across that is lined with softest things that the squirrels can get their paws on. The soft stuff usually ends up being bird feathers, dried grasses, animal fur and then such. The work is never done though as the squirrels are always working on their nests keeping them insulated, waterproofed and in tip-top shape as possible.

Let The Games Begin

When it comes to the mating season in late winter and early spring, the squirrels sure know how to make the most of it. Several males chase each other all over the tops of the trees from branch to branch trying to make his place for the one female they are all battling for. All the while, the female has her eyes on these males evaluating them and making mental notes of the strongest and fastest. When she has made this decision the male proceeds to follow her around until she is ready to mate. After the next step of nature has run its course, the male returns to his territory and the female is left to do the rest.

With an average gestation period of 40 days, 4 or 5 will be born. They are quick to develop and start getting weaned at about 7 to 8 weeks after birth. The young leave the nest after 18 weeks with a 25 percent chance of surviving to sexual maturity (usually 1 year of age). However, if they do make it that far, they can live up to 7 years in the wild.

Sources:

  • http://www.squirrels.org/red.html
  • http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/tamiasciurus/t._hudsonicus.html
  • Personal Knowledge
There was an article in the newspaper a while back about the European Eagle Owl, a creature which fled the English countryside over a century and a half ago, and has subsequently made its home in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. According to the newspaper, at least one couple has escaped from captivity and are resident in England's depleted forests, where they will no doubt commit great slaughter of England's soft, television-fed wild animals.

The scientific name for the European Eagle Owl is 'bubo bubo', and with wings outstretched an adult Eagle Owl is roughly the size of a six-foot-tall man lying on his side. The owls feed on rabbits, crabs and other birds. They are murderers. They seek to destroy all that is pure and good. They are vermin enemies of the human race.

One of the key news stories last year was of a war, a secret war which we do not notice, but which rages around us nonetheless; that between the red and the grey squirrels. The red squirrels, native to Britain, are being out-fought and out-competed by grey squirrels, which have invaded these lands by holding onto wind-blown blossoms, carried on the caurus and boreas from France, and also from America. I can understand France wanting to destroy Britain's wild animals. They have always hated us. But America! O! The new found land! Where once America promised salvation, a new start, now it brings death to our squirrels. The red squirrels seek to destroy all that is pure and good. They are vermin enemies of the human race.

However, I believe there may be salvation for the red squirrels. Salvation from the skies, in the form of the European Eagle Owl. The red squirrels must broker a deal; persuaded the Eagle Owls to feed exclusively on the grey squirrels, and when the ensuing bloodbath is over, hopefully both the grey squirrels and the eagle owls - powerful, but vastly outnumbered by the red squirrels - will lie dead.

The red squirrels have plenty to offer the Eagle Owls. A supply of nuts, finely-crafted nests, and financial services, for squirrels are very good at hoarding things. The three obstacles to this alliance are (a) the possibility that the grey squirrels, with their greater resources, might enlist the help of the Eagle Owl first, in which case I urge the red squirrels to act with all haste, (b) the possibility that the Eagle Owls might simply enslave the red squirrels, in which case it will be in the interests of the red squirrels to ensure that the Eagle Owls are totally dependant on their services - perhaps by promoting vegetarianism amongst the owl population, thus reducing their lust for meat (although they would have to be persuaded that grey squirrels are vegetables, otherwise the Eagle Owls would be useless), and (c) the possibility that the Eagle Owls might swap sides, in which case a combination of (a) and (b) should suffice.

Another alternative is for England's apathetic human masses to rise up, purchase air rifles, and wipe out the grey squirrels with a blazing torrent of lead. Squirrels are legally classed as vermin, and can therefore be shot without licence; furthermore, there are no moral barriers to eliminating the grey squirrels, except perhaps the danger of posioning the land with lead. However, we must recognise that that land is already posioned - with grey squirrels - and that their rotting bodies will nourish the soil. They seek to destroy all that is pure and good. They are vermin enemies of the human race.

I urge you. All of you. Go forth. And kill.

The gun is good.

"We bred you, we led you"
"And I have seen the force that put the idea in your head; you were bred and led yourself".

I have not chosen to discuss the pussycat. Now is not the time.

The beast:
http://www.discoverit.co.uk/falconry/europeow.htm
The squirrel:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/190.shtml
Salvation:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/191.shtml
The article:
http://articles.owlpages.net/news.php?article=171&page=4

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.