Yes, Jack Frost has finally taken his toll: we now have at least five squirrels with either open wounds on their legs or swollen, floppy feet, which we believe was caused by frostbite. Frostbite is literally frozen body tissue. I was feeding them today and it near broke my heart to see their legs and feet like that. These brave little creatures almost made it through the long, cold winter, but that last blast really did some of them in. They are shell-shocked now, and can't take any more. There was much crying going on in trees. How they have suffered!
On top of that, the injured ones are vulnerable to being bullied. I was feeding a little gray one whose foot seemed to be almost hanging off, and was having trouble eating a peanut and standing up at the same time. All the while there was this big gray squirrel hovering around, who was taking nuts and burying them. He was annoying me, but I kept throwing him nuts just to keep him out of the way as I fed the injured one.
Then this beautiful black squirrel appeared with a very bad leg and what looked like frostbite on his face. He approached tentatively as if he was afraid of something. I threw him a couple of peanuts and a walnut. He chose a peanut and disappeared up the tree to eat. A little while later he came back down for the rest of his meal, and the big gray squirrel bounded over and began to quite viciously pounce on him! I could hardly believe my eyes. He ran off with the bully in hot pursuit, chasing him up a tree like a dog would! The petrified black squirrel never came down again and surely went to bed hungry. I tried to go after the gray squirrel to give him a good scare and get him away from the tree. Unfortunately, he was not the least bit afraid of me, and I ended up all tangled up in rose bush thorns! Then to add insult to injury, the bully squirrel went back and found the black squirrel's nuts, and I stood there helplessly watching as he ate them with relish. Yes, boys and girls, squirrels can be evil.
While I tried to get the black squirrel to come down, a woman came by and asked me, "Are the squirrels bothered by the cold?" I looked at her like she was nuts, saying "Are they ever!" I started a rant about frostbite and the bully squirrel, trying to tell her what had happened. But the woman said: "I'd better be on my way." And I said: "Sorry, I didn't mean to bore you with squirrel politics!" She laughed and said: "Oh it's not that. It's just that I'm recovering from three operations - a knee replacement, a hip replacement and a spinal fusion. So I'd better keep walking." I had to laugh. I almost neglected to say that the kind lady was carrying a fistful of peanuts.
Little squirrels, count your blessings!
Click on a picture for a close-up
Young squirrel with a swollen foot
closeup of the foot
Enjoying another squirrel's meal