Friday, July 14, 2006

Monkey tales

A few months ago I started putting out food for the squirrels in our woods. I wanted Monkey to have lots of friends to choose from when I released him. Now our lot seems to be the neighborhood squirrel gathering place, and I can often see 10 or more squirrels at a time from our back deck.

Last week one of our visiting friends asked me how I tell Monkey apart from the rest of the squirrels. When I first released him, I dabbed his tummy with blue food coloring, because I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing which squirrel was "mine". You can see the blue in the above photo that I took the day I released him over 2 months ago. The blue color only lasted about 2 days, but no matter, because I could tell which one was Monkey, since he was the only squirrel that would come and eat out of my hand.

Well, that method may not be as foolproof as I thought. This morning I was sitting on our porch stairs feeding Monkey when a second squirrel ventured over. He watched Monkey chowing down squirrel food from my hand and I guess he decided it looked pretty good. He came closer and closer (with Monkey growling at him the whole time) until he was just an inch from my toes. Monkey continued to growl and added some threatening clicking noises. I decided that I didn't want to find out what it was like to be a human in the middle of a squirrel fight so I threw some food on the ground for squirrel #2, so he would leave us alone. He hopped down, ate some sunflower seeds, then buried 3 kernels of corn in 3 carefully chosen locations. Monkey watched intently while he continued to eat from my hand, but he finally couldn't contain himself any longer. He jumped off my lap and chased the intruder away.

Monkey returned and I watched him dig up all three kernels of corn that squirrel #2 had buried, then he buried them in 3 new locations of his own choosing. Smart??? Mean??? What kind of squirrel have I raised?

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