Naturalist Jennifer Rupp is amused and inspired watching squirrels outside her window…

Photo by Duane Cooley

As I sit down to write this post, one common mammal is on my mind.  Currently there is one of them sitting outside my window in a tree, barking and shouting at a stray farm cat passing beneath.  Isn’t it funny how you can always tell when a squirrel is upset!  Squirrels are everywhere and are fun to watch leap from tree to tree. In Iowa, we have several different kinds of tree squirrels.  For this little note, we’ll focus on the tree squirrels although there are several species of ground squirrels as well.  They like to steal cherry tomatoes from my garden!  Our most common tree squirrels are Fox and Gray squirrels, but Red squirrels and Southern Flying squirrels can be found here as well. 

Squirrel fun caught on the trail camera

They are on my mind lately not only because of this one particularly vocal squirrel outside the window, but because in our attempts to discover what’s been digging big holes on the property, the trail camera has successfully captured some pretty fluffy looking squirrels leaping about (see picture).  But it’s so cold!  What do they do to stay warm?  Turns out those squirrels use their adorable fluffy tails as blankets on their backs and wrapped around them to keep warm when they aren’t using them for balance, or to emphasize their conversations with stray cats (flick, flick). 

This nut didn't make it past lunch! Photo by Duane Cooley

Another amazing thing about squirrels is their fantastic memory…oh wait, I forgot.  They don’t remember all the places they bury nuts, but at least they have a fantastic nose instead.  Even through the snow they can sniff out the meals they spent so much time burying in the fall.  That’s why sometimes when a nut has been forgotten, trees can grow!  I think the tree squirrels leave some behind on purpose because they want to grow new homes!

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