Friday, September 15, 2006

Do Squirrels Grieve?

Yesterday, a small squirrel (not pictured at right) was hanging around and under our front porch. Its behavior seemed a bit strange, but within the range of normal squirreliness.

A short time ago, I discovered a second squirrel dead near the front porch. The first squirrel was sitting over the corpse, touching it gently in an apparent attempt to wake it. Whenever I approached, the critter chased me away. It even chased me onto the porch and tried climbing the screen door.

My question: Do squirrels grieve? And, if so, how long before I can safely remove the body?

Update (11:14 pm): An hour or so after I posted this, we managed to distract Squirrel #1 long enough to cart away the body of Squirrel #2. Not long after, our 16-pound cat faced off with Squirrel #1, and in doing so pushed the screen out of a basement window. The squirrel ran through the window into the basement, alarming my brother-in-law who was working there at the time. He shepherded the intruder toward the bulkhead, where it finally made its escape.

The bereaved squirrel was later seen and heard on the front porch, pacing back and forth and emitting pitiful cries.

(The photo depicts Squirrel #1 taunting our overweight cat from a maple in the front yard.)

Update (Sunday, Sept. 16): A squirrel expert has been summoned, who assures us that Squirrel #1 is chasing us only because we look like good sources for food. Once he is captured (benignly) he will be transported and spend the rest of his childhood being pampered and handfed.

Final update (Sunday, Sept. 16, 4:55 pm): Squirrel Lady just came and rescued the three baby squirrels we found in our yard. It turns out that Squirrel #1 was actually Squirrel #1a, 1b, and 1c—which explains why it seemed to be everywhere at once. All were about the same size, and were probably siblings about 8 weeks old. Unfortunately, with their removal, the death of their supposed mother, and the death-by-squashing last week of another squirrel at the end of our driveway, our trees are now devoid of bushy-tailed life.


Christopher Romero Bond said...

maine truly is strange, and truly is a wonderful place. I've been here (outside of Greenville) for two weeks now, and I'm in love.
I've been told that I'm now an honorary Mainiac, and I hope that it is true.
Great blog.

Michelle said...

Goodness gracious. chris d-- it sounds like you have had wild and wooly squirrel adventures. I personally have never seena squirrel actually pursue a human in search of food in that aggressive a manner. Well, I'm glad they're in good hands. Maybe your squirrel lady can bring them back when they're in better shape so that you will not be without furriness?

christopher r.b.-- Glad you are enjoying Maine and our blog! We're happy to have you aboard. :)

Chris said...

I'm not sure where she will release them, but they are definitely in good hands. We found the rehabber through this website, which I would recommend to anyone in Maine who finds an animal in distress (this pdf file has even more info).

snixysnix said...

I was wondering if squirrels grieve as well, my 2 labs nabbed a baby squirrel today, and although I was able to get it out of her mouth, it was screeching, probably in pain. I was so upset and my adrenaline pumping. I penned up my 2 dogs and placed the baby up high in a tree so other dogs couldn't get to I left I heard similar screeching coming from high in the tree...and wondered is this the momma? ugh. so very distraught. I know it is their nature (dogs) but it makes it no easier.