The squirrels on the UA-Little Rock campus are used to people — hundreds of people — tromping past at any particular time of day.

Squirrel with bark shreds in mouth
SHREDS — Maybe cypress bark tastes good?

Generally, however, they will hop away to maintain a safe distance should a human make too close an approach. Not so with one squirrel, who was intent on a strange activity — stripping bark from a cypress tree. The squirrel hopped down, ripped up a mouthful of mulch, then hopped back up the tree (mouth empty) to begin ripping and stripping again.

I have a query in to our local extension wildlife and forestry specialists about this odd behavior. It’s been noted elsewhere, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. There are multiple theories for this behavior, such as the need for nutrients or water. (this spring, however, there is no shortage of either for  this scholarly squirrel). Reason 5 may be the most accurate:  “We may never have a complete understanding of why bark-stripping occurs.”

Squirrel chewing bark
STRIPPER — This gray squirrel was busy grabbing shreds of bark from a cypress tree.
Cypress with bald spots
SEEING RED — Reddish areas show where the bark-stripping squirrel has gone to town all over this tree.

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