Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wet Squirrel

Most people think a squirrel's tail is used for balance, but it can also come in handy as an umbrella. We've been seeing this Fox Squirrel in the yard -- usually at a birdfeeder -- for the past week or so. The vast majority of our squirrels are Eastern Grays. We only see a Fox Squirrel every two or three years. Fox or Gray, squirrels are pests, but cute pests.

Rain -- possibly becoming snow on Christmas Eve -- is in our forecast for the next several days.


Thanks to Dave at Via Negativa for pointing out that the squirrel I photographed is probably a Fox Squirrel and definately not a Red Squirrel as I had originally described it. The Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America. Its natural range extends throughout the eastern United States, excluding New England, north into the southern prairie provinces of Canada, and west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas.

The Fox Squirrel's common name is based on its fox-like, rufous color. Red Squirrel is sometimes listed as another common name for Fox Squirrels, though it is really incorrect and causes confusion. That's the problem with common names.

The American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is much smaller, has a white belly and is usually found in conifer forests.

Our more common squirrels are Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis). The Eastern Gray Squirrel has predominantly gray fur but it can have a reddish color. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail. It is slightly smaller than the Fox Squirrel. Gray and Fox Squirrel ranges overlap.



gwen said...

Love the photo

Anonymous said...

In case I don’t have a chance to say it later, Merry Christmas Marvin!

Anonymous said...

Yes, nice shot. Interesting post too :-) I always enjoy reading your blog.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Wishing you and Jo a fantastic Christmas and New Year Marvin. I look forward to seeing your 2010 post. May it be a great year for you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have seen squirrels do this many times Marvin. They use those big fluffy tails to their advantage. They will need their umbrellas here today and tomorrow according to the weather people. The rain has commenced. Much to warm for snow here though. One can always hope. Tis the season for hope. I hope you and Jo have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.

Lana Gramlich said...

Red squirrels, fox squirrels, gray squirrels...they're all rat bastards to me. <:\
Happy holidays, hon! My best to you & yours for 2010!

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that not only might the tail over the top of the body shed off some rain but it may offer a way for the squirrel to retain body heat too by holding that bushy tail over the top of itself when the weather turns bad. Cute photo though, I can sit and watch squirrels play around for what seems like hours sometimes. : )