Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Diversity of Squirrels (in my backyard)

Notch-o on my roof
What: After my last post I decided I wanted to really get a handle of who is who in my backyard. It's pretty obvious who Captain Death is, since he has but one ear, but there are about 4 other gray squirrels that also use my yard at various points throughout the day. Another one has a large cyst like thing on its left side, making it another easy one to ID. The lady above has a pair of notches on her ears, presumable from a male biting them during their odd little courtship routine.

A while back I thought it would be a fun challenge to see how many wild animals I could touch. It becomes pretty obvious pretty quick that the easiest way to win an animal over is through its stomach, whether it's downy woodpeckers, woodchucks, beavers, or chickadees. So in the spirit of feeding wild animals and in order to get a better handle on the rascally little squirrels I set up a feeder in the middle of my yard. This way I can see them out in the open and watch them long enough to start to discern unique features that will allow me to recognize each individual (gender, size, coloration, scars, tail length, etc.). Next step will be to name them.

1. Squirrel has one ear: Captain Death
1b. Squirrel has two ears
      2a. Has large cyst (or whatever it is) on left side: Lumplestiltskin
      2b. Does not have cyst on left side
            3a. Both ears notched: Notch-o
            3b. Both ears not notched
                  4a. One ear notched (has scraggly tufts on back): Tufts
                  4b. No notches in ear: Youngyun


Tufts, showing those clumps of scraggly fur on back
Youngyun with a walnut I set out for her
Youngyun with feet extended backwards (grays can rotate rear feet 180o)
Where: My backyard (but could just as easily be yours)

Other notes: I've noticed that their mouths all seem to be a bit darker these days, probably from the non-stop chewing of walnut husk. My hands are stained for a couple of weeks after handling walnuts, and I imagine it sticks just as well to fur as to skin.


  1. You know these are the same cuties that keep eating our peaches, apples, etc. right?? Training them to come into the yard for food/walnuts is going to make for a tough fruit season next year.

    1. I know, I know, but as you said, they're so darn cute. Not sure how to deal with them other than love 'em or kill 'em and I'm not quite ready to kill them.