Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin- also known as Squirrels- the Devil's Taskmasters

Did you think that I was going to leave you hanging? After wrestling for an hour with some new photo software last night, I gave up and went to bed. But today I couldn't bear the thought of you all waiting on pins and needles to hear more about those seemingly cute and cuddly mammals- the California ground squirrel...

"What does she have against squirrels?" you might wonder. Perhaps Beatrix Potter's mischievious Squirrel Nutkin comes to mind. Or maybe, like me in a previous time of my life, you think of Walt Disney's irrepressible Chip N Dale (and yes- I know that they are chipmunks, not squirrels but they come to mind anyway).

If either of this images came to mind, I can only say that you couldn't be more wrong! The California ground squirrel is neither cute nor cuddly. It is, in fact, pure evil embodied in a furry little body with razor sharp teeth. And I have the photos to prove it...

It all began our first day of camping, when L and I took the kids to the river to swim. As experienced campers, we made sure that all the food was packed away before we left our site. My food was packed in clear bins with interlocking lids- which were tightly closed. When we returned to camp two hours later, we discovered that the squirrels had managed to open said bin and had eaten three packages of french rolls and two packages of hot dog buns- not the cheap kind either, these were potato buns! Basically all the squirrels left was a loaf of buttermilk bread.

On Thursday, having wised up to the wily ways of this particularly insidious breed of squirrel- I took the extra precaution of using zip ties to lock the food bins closed. We returned from another trip to the river and all seemed well. Until I started cooking dinner, that is. It was then that I noticed that there were peculiar plastic shavings on top of my bin. In fact, the squirrels had started chewing through the lid.

In case you missed it- here is a close up.

Fortunately we came back from the river before they could get to the food inside. Unfortunately, when draining the cooked spaghetti that I intended to serve for dinner- I spilled the entire pot on the ground. You can only imagine how this attracted every squirrel in the vicinity to feast.

OK- so I admit, they might be cute when they were eating pasta. But the cute-ness faded quickly when we later took down Teenage Daughter's tent and discovered this:

Yes- they chewed through her tent in a futile effort to find something to snack on. (Being wary of squirrels- Teenage Daughter did not have food in her tent as she knew that it would only attract them).

So there you have it... Proof that this seemingly innocent creature is really the devil in disguise!


Marmotmom said...

Um....Ah....Um...Okay, ill say it: THAT'S A CHIPMUNK!!
This is where I, as a transplanted Silicon Valley person, now in Oregon, could say something snotty like: "O-o-o-h! I guess you ARE from California!!!" But you won't hear it from me......:)

Frazzmom said...

It's hard to tell from the photos because you can't see the bushy tails, but it really is a squirrel (no stripes down the back). And actually I'm transplanted to CA from Idaho :-)