Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Little Furry Things

CD in Play: Converge, You Fail Me.

The Awful Truth About Squirrels

I was at my Dad's for dinner on Sunday and we were joined by one of his oldest friends, John Christian. John lives up along Francois Lake for most of the year, but is down to do some work in the White Rock area. We had a good meal: roast lamb in a peppercorn gravy with potato, broccoli and marinated mushrooms.
After the meal John, my Dad and myself were sitting around talking and John was talking about these two biologists working around the lake to study the life-cycle of rabbits in the area, looking at some of the adversities that they face. Many animals prey on rabbits as a source of food, it's a fact I think we all should know. However, I was a little creeped out to learn that they are hunted down by squirrels.
Colour me ignorant, but I had no idea that squirrels were omnivorous. In addition to seeds, nuts, fruits and berries (and I also knew they would eat insects) squirrels also eat bird's eggs, small birds, frogs and small mammals. Now rabbits are not particularly small, but their newborn offspring are. Yes, squirrels hunt, kill and eat bunnies. The will invade a burrow and kill all the babies. Then they drag their little carcases up into the holes in their trees and hang them up to dry them out. Squirrels, apparently, prefer their food to be dry and crunchy. I suppose as an added bonus they might get a feast of maggots as well.
I am reminded of a story about the eastern Native Indian "transformer" god, Glooskap. Glooskap had gone around to all the animals in preperation for the impending arrival of humanity into the world, asking what they would do for humankind when they arrived. Many animals (like the bear) gathered up food while an animal like beaver made them a house. When Glooskap asked squirrel what it would do - and squirrel was about the size of a bear - squirrel ran over to a near-by dead tree and tore it apart. Glooskap shrunk squirrel so he and his kind would never threaten humanity again. Of course, Glooskap forgot about the bunnies. (and the fact that squirrels can often act as carriers of the bubonic plauge) I can picture a squirrel running from rabbit warren to rabbit warren with a chainsaw, wearing a leather apron and a bunny skin mask.
Think about that and remember, a squirrel would eat you and your whole family if it had the chance.

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