Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
December 25, 1999

Take A Guess
Paul Barry


Up A Pump ... Up A Tree

This one should be rather simple.

Just what do you think is happening here?

I will tell you that this was not the work of a human being. Another hint, you can see the cracker supply in the background of the second. There were lots of cheezits "hidden" that morning. These were two of the more inventive places the cheezits were hidden.

We laughed a lot while watching this.

Who did this very funny thing?

Here is the culprit. A Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel is also know by a couple of other common names; Pine Squirrel, Chickaree. Scientists use another name, in Latin, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus.

He is rust-red to greyish-red above being brightest on the sides, white or greyish-white below and the tail is similar to the back color but is outlined with a broad, black band edged in white. The coat is duller in the summer and a black line separates the back and underbelly colours. The average red squirrel weighs 7-12 ounces, just a little less than a half pound.

The Red Squirrel is abundant in any kind of forest, coniferous, pine, mixed or hardwood forests, especially in the northern areas.

This creature feeds heavily on pine seeds and in the fall it cuts green cones and buries them in damp earth; other favorite foods are nuts, seeds, birds' eggs, young birds, fungi, and, apparently, Cheezits. Red Squirrels make a nest of leaves in a hollow or fallen tree, hole in the ground or tree crotch. Three to seven young are born in March or April and there is sometimes a second litter in August or September. The Red Squirrel is a chatterbox with a variety of calls to announce its home range or the presence of intruders. He is very protective of his home and can often seen chasing other, bigger animals away.

Red Squirrel tracks are easy to find between trees and near holes in the ground where they have dug up buried cones. Squirrels place their feet next to each other rather than one in front of the other. In deep snow their tracks are characterized by two diamond shapes next to one another. A clear imprint will reveal five long toes with claws similar to the skeleton of a human hand and may or may not have a heel print. The heel is as long again as the toes and a rough oval shape.

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