Introducing leggings. You’ll never run out of inspiration.

This teensy North American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) fell from somewhere & landed in this spread-eagled posture on the asphalt floor of our neighbors’ garage. Neighbor Charmaine dashed over & hustled me & my camera out the door, & there it was… a little drama in the making. After some debate (during which Cocker spaniel Lucy attempted a bit of a snuffle), & much speculation about where the little squirrel’s nest was & such, we decided to leave it essentially in situ, thinking that the mother would retrieve it sooner than later. Ray got a small plastic bucket, put some grass clippings in it (along with a couple of peanuts for Mother Red… baby didn’t even have its eyes open & was clearly dependent on mother’s milk), & poked this sprat into it. Despite its small size (maybe 2-3 inches long, not counting that funny wee tail), it had the typical Red Squirrel spunk & protested vocally as it was gently persuaded. We left the bucket right there, & within a half- hour, the baby was gone & the bucket was empty. Nobody saw the rescue, but I had opined that Mother Squirrel would certainly be capable of carrying this infant, & we are 90% sure that all was well.

This happy notion was reinforced yesterday (12 August) when Ray & I witnessed our own Little Red, who is now up for nomination as Mother of the Year, removing her brood of SEVEN (count ‘em) little little reds from an ancient jacket of Ray’s that’s been hanging unused in our back shed for a decade, to a hole in a big tree in the neighbors’ front lawn. It’s pretty clear that the infant pictured here is from another lady’s litter, as there are at least a couple of breeding mums in the immediate vicinity (the females’ territories are pretty big considering the small size of the creatures, but they can & do overlap, especially in residential areas like ours). In any event, our Little Red moved all seven of hers right under our wondering noses… have seen the bigger Grays move house, but that’s a slower, more laborious process if for no other reason than that the youngsters are much larger relative to the size of the adult when this mobilization occurs. In the case of the Reds, Mother Red just sped along, feet barely touching the ground, with the tightly curled, Ping-Pong-ball-sized baby in her mouth. And she just kept coming back… running right under my feet, practically, stopping to look up at me as I talked to her & congratulated her on her remarkable brood & her skill, then moving on to the old jacket. Much rummaging ensued; then she emerged with yet another dark reddish-brown Ping-Pong ball. Down the steps, under the cars, into the neighbors’ lawn, up the tree, then back again. When she was finally done, she came back here, took a drink from the water dish we provide, came back into the shed, climbed back up to the nesting jacket, rummaged a bit more (we’re saying WHAT? EIGHT??) & came out, this time with a peanut…… She headed back to the new nest, & that was the last we saw of her. Unfortunately, no pictures of the rapid-fire activity.

North American Reds have a very high mortality rate, & only about 25% survive ‘childhood’. Seven is an unusually high number, but as many as eight in a brood have been recorded. Little Red was VERY fat when pregnant, so no big surprise. A lot of Reds are just little bundles of raw nerves, but our Little Red is remarkably calm & quiet, & likes us, in her squirrelish fashion, a lot. This has been a banner year for our local wildlife, & that includes our Cottontail bunnies.

Hamburg, NY
11 August 2013

A short bio, eh? I am Sheila, & I am short.

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Comments

  • WalnutHill
    WalnutHillover 1 year ago

    How wonderful! God bless them, every one!! ;-D
    >blows kisses<

    Jan

  • An absolute hoot, this whole scene!! Thanks, Jan, & for the favorite!!

    – artwhiz47

  • Monnie Ryan
    Monnie Ryanover 1 year ago

    Oh my gosh. Sure glad it turned out okay! Amazing capture!

  • Thank you, Monnie. This little bit of fur & fingers was a perfect subject; never moved except to breathe! I thought the blacktop made a good background, too!

    – artwhiz47

  • Barry Norton
    Barry Nortonover 1 year ago

    Fab capture, glad it turned out OK

  • Thanks, Barry. I wish I’d gotten a shot or two of Little Red moving her babies around, but it all happened so quickly. With all seven of them!

    – artwhiz47

  • Roy  Massicks
    Roy Massicksover 1 year ago

    Sheila – what a wonderful tale ! We do hope the little one made it safely away with mother. Wonderful image and write-up !

  • We are a community of nutty humans & busy wildlife (I usually call them Vermin, but affectionately…); fortunately, we’re all fond of our various fauna! Thanks, Roy, & for the favorite……

    – artwhiz47

  • Malcolm Chant
    Malcolm Chantover 1 year ago

    AHHHH what a beautiful ending Shelia, your narrative gave me a sign of relief, what a little dear he/she is, hooray for a happy ending , an a favorite

  • Thanks so much, Malcolm! We had some tense moments trying to decide what to do, but things resolved themselves quickly & favorably! Thanks for the favorite, too!

    – artwhiz47

  • Photography by Mathilde
    Photography by...over 1 year ago

    Love happy endings and good neighbour stories – well done to you all, especially Mommy Red for being such a good Mum x

  • Thank you, ma’am. And for favoring us…. We always seem to have some animal story going….

    – artwhiz47

  • WeeZie
    WeeZieover 1 year ago

    Awesome image and story. So glad all’s well in the end. It is amazing how resourceful animals are.

  • Years of observation of the neighborhood critters have given me a thorough appreciation of their skills & talents & instincts & personalities…. Such a variety! Thanks for the comment & the favorite!!

    – artwhiz47

  • John44
    John44over 1 year ago

    Very unusual, and eyecatching colour post Sheila :-)

  • Thank you, John. It was a most unusual situation, to be sure. I took three shots, one of which showed the little head a bit better, but I opted for this one with that funny little tail! I thought the black asphalt was the perfect background, & the light (no flash) was very good.

    – artwhiz47

  • Robin Brown
    Robin Brownover 1 year ago

    Learning to climb!
    Awe!
    Todays Cute award goes to…………………..
    Whatshis name!
    I like happy endings Sheila :o) xx

  • Heh, heh. Well, he/she has the feet for it. Thanks, Robin.

    – artwhiz47

  • Jane Neill-Hancock
    Jane Neill-Han...over 1 year ago

    Sheila – what an amazing story. Yes – when I saw the photo I was all upset. so glad it was rescued and Mom has her 7 babies. fantastic. see if you can get some photos of Mom and the babies. what a great ending. I am tired of all the sad endings to be sure.

  • Actually, this little traveler was not part of our Little Red’s litter of 7… this belongs to the next-door neighbor squirrel lady, as far as we know. But in any case, yes, all worked out in the end. It has been a great year for critters of all kinds. I will be keeping a lookout for Little Red & the teeny Ping-Pong balls she moved to the maple tree. We know exactly where she is, & we will almost certainly get some visits from those babies once they emerge! Thanks, Jane, & for the favorite.

    – artwhiz47

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