Gosh darn it! Squirrels are cute.

No two ways about it. These little rodents have a lock on cuteness. This array of white, red and gray squirrels was found in the same back yard in Minnesota. Some years, there there have been solid black squirrels alongside the white, romping around the yard’s many trees. The white squirrel is a true albino with red eyes. We hope he can evade the hawks and coyotes.

Hard for this fellow to hide in any season but winter.
Red squirrel scampers for corn and seeds dropped from the bird feeder. This l’il guy had a red friend with whom he played tag. (or whatever squirrels play.)
Peek-a-boo!

The stripper

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.

Whistlepig and sidekick eat out (or in)

Readers are familiar with that blogally famous Perry County Prognosticator, Blossom the Groundhog. As good as her predictions are, she has been a little less predictable.

However, her spokespeople, Tamara and Jack, have sent new dispatch. Blossom has reappeared after spending the spring rearing a den of babies (pups? kittens? whistlepiglets?) Jack, an excellent human chef and vintner, was pleased to offer a spread that would delight any rodent of Blossom’s stature: cabbage, apples and peanuts. This time, Blossom brought a friend, the curl-your-toes-cute Ratty the wood rat, who was content with a bowl of oatmeal. Thanks to Tamara and Jack for the photo update!

BlossomGetsHerstrength BlossomGrump

Ratty Solo

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy I

This week features a photo taken by friends Tamara and Jack: a portrait of Blossom the groundhog. Blossom’s job is stealing the fruits of their garden labors, though Jack has been known to give her treats. Here she is happily nibbling away. Dang. Rodents can be cute, even if they do eat your squash.

GROUNDHOG NOM-NOMS — Blossom, the garden thief, enjoys food given, not stolen. According to Wikipedia, groundhogs are also known as whistle-pigs and land beavers.

We’ll probably have more happy as the weekend progresses.

Find other people’s happy at:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/weekly-photo-challenge-happy/