Squirrels, squirrels, squirrels! — Tone Madison


Madison’s gray squirrels are nutty and residing it up this fall.

Squirrel picture by Peter O’Connor on Flickr, illustrated body by Maggie Denman.

In Making The Nature Scene, Tone Madison explores the splendor of the outside within the Madison space (and past), and encourages Madisonians to assume extra deeply about their pure and constructed environment.

The bushes are altering colours and so are the squirrels. That’s a seasonal remark, not a psychedelic-induced one. Trees are shedding their leaves. Squirrels are rising seasonal white tufts behind their tiny ears for heat. Our wiley neighbors are further nutty this time of yr, making threatening screeching noises from branches above, lurking shiftily with a nut of their mini maws and even throwing nuts at canines (in line with experiences). 

In Madison, gray squirrels abound. Eastern gray squirrels, to be precise. They squirrel up the jap half of the United States and components of south central Canada. You may also discover these chubby dudes in beer caves throughout the state, adorning New Glarus Brewing Company’s Fat Squirrel nut brown ale. Cheers!

Madison is traditionally a primo spot for squirrels, says Scott Craven, emeritus professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Wildlife Ecology. “It’s an enormous metropolis, closely treed, plenty of parks,” Craven says. Green areas like Picnic Point and the UW-Madison Arboretum give squirrels ample house to scamper. With this yr’s ample nut crop and average climate, he says, many squirrels will survive the approaching winter.

Squirrels reside off of the land, burying walnuts, acorns, and corn caches to smell out later. “They do not discover all of them, so seed disbursement and tree planting is a service they supply,” Craven says. Even when squirrels attempt to cross the street and don’t make it to the opposite aspect, what they’ve eaten is dispersed. 

Throughout the yr, squirrels additionally eat berries and fruits. They’ve even been recognized to eat eggs out of nests. As anybody with a birdfeeder is aware of, these acrobatic mofos like to raid a birdfeeder. But they’re on the run from horned owls, some hawks, foxes, and coyotes. Squirrels’ prime predators are people in vehicles. On event, a cat or canine will take out a squirrel too. 

All of that nut-snarfing helps them sustain their power. And they want it. Squirrels, which might reside so long as 12 years, have two breeding seasons. The first is in February and March, adopted by one other in July. Gestation is about 44 days for the litters of two to 4 “kits.” Squirrels favor to spend the winter in a tree hole. Their second selection is a globular rainproof nest, or drey, in-built excessive branches. Dreys are fabricated from leaves, twigs, moss, dried grass, and even feathers for insulation. These rodents usually sneak into the underside of roof eaves and attempt to spend the winter in an attic and even inside partitions. Not cool, y’all. Squirrels get munchy on wiring, creating a fireplace hazard.

You’ve most likely seen that many gray squirrels aren’t gray. The coloration differentiation is solely genetic, Craven says. Squirrel colours can vary from black, or melanastic, to albino white. And they molt all year long, including to their psychedelic talents. Some cities, like Reedsburg, Wisconsin, are recognized for black squirrels. If people don’t take a shine to those mutant oddities, very darkish and lightweight squirrels are at an obstacle. Predators can spot them extra simply, Craven says. Madison as soon as had an albino squirrel inhabitants—within the type of useless, frozen squirrels imported from Missouri. Now-deceased Cress Funeral Home proprietor and beginner taxidermist Sam Sanfillippo housed them in a free museum within the enterprise’ basement. Some squirrels have noticeably bobbed tails, presumably from preventing with predators and different squirrels. 

“They are acrobatic, they’ve personalities and so they have squabbles with one another,” Craven says. They additionally faux to cover nuts in the event that they assume a possible thief is eyeing their meals. Which suggests they’re scheming, simply as I’ve all the time suspected. If you hear them chattering and see them flicking their tails, it means they’re on alert for predators. Squirrel alert! 

Now, regardless of your squirrel-taming goals, it’s unlawful to maintain wild animals as pets in Wisconsin. Not even if you happen to encounter an cute, helpless-looking child squirrel. A younger wild animal’s finest likelihood for survival is with its mom. Here’s the advice on the right way to “Keep Wildlife Wild” from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR): 

“If you discover a very younger squirrel with its eyes nonetheless sealed shut, it has most likely fallen from its nest. If the equipment shouldn’t be injured, it must be positioned again in its nest, whether it is secure to take action. If the equipment can’t safely be positioned again in its nest, place it on the base of the nest tree on a smooth, ravel-free fabric (i.e. no free strings) throughout daylight. There is an efficient likelihood the mom will discover the equipment and return it to the nest herself. Keep a watch on the younger squirrel from indoors or from a distance so your presence would not stop the mom from returning, and so you’ll be able to look ahead to potential predators. Unless the mom hasn’t picked up the equipment after two hours, or if a squirrel is injured or performing pleasant and following folks or pets, it must be left alone.”

If you assume a squirrel has been orphaned, discuss with this helpful WDNR flowchart. Spoiler: the ultimate step isn’t “Bring the equipment into your own home and make it a member of the family to the tune of Stuart Little.” Bummer, I do know. 

To quell your sorrow, take a look at this selection squirrel-inspired playlist from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.