Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spirit of Spunky - Squiggy the Squirrel

It's possible that we've lost Spunky. We saw her last on March 2, when she didn't look that good, and now she's been missing for a couple of days.  Here's the progression:
Feb 22

Feb 23 - still eating well

March 2 - scab was more prominent and appetite was poor
When squirrels get sick they often disappear for a while. Hopefully they come back better, but it's frustrating when we're unable to help.

If Spunky has left us I'll be very sad indeed, because she has been a good friend for a very long time. Within a year we have lost our two friends Tubby and Mr. Operator. He died last winter after the killer ice storm, and Tubby died in late spring, perhaps just of old age. A squirrel in the wild ages quickly. Most only live a few years. Tubby lived a long time - I'd known her for 4 years.

But Spunky's spirit lives on in the form of  two little Spunkys that we are just getting to know. They look and act like their mother -- same inquisitive expression, and impish personality. The littlest one is so very tiny and at the moment, fearless. I call him Squiggles - Squiggy for short -- because there is something squiggly about the way he squirms and wiggles. Actually I don't know if it's a him or a her yet, but until I know, I'll refer to Squiggles as "him".

Squiggy - Spunky on Steroids
Yesterday Squiggy jumped onto Bernie and ran right up his leg. Bernie was  flabbergasted!   And today he jumped up on my coat.  I was sitting on the bench hoping that Spunky might make an appearance, so I'd know she was ok. She'd take nuts from me on the bench while I tossed them to other squirrels on the ground. We had a regular routine going: I'd put a nut on the railing and she'd reach up or pull herself up to get it. She enjoyed that bit of gymnastics, and I did too. If I'm ever in doubt as to whether it's Spunky, I know for sure it's her when she jumps up on the bench and does that routine.
Well the last time I saw Spunky she didn't do it, and I thought maybe she didn't feel well enough to jump up. Oh dear.

Today I wasn't seeing her, so I thought I'd do the Spunky test. So there I am sitting on the bench with my bag of nuts.  And who should jump up and start performing? Squiggy!

Look! I'm here and I'm BAD!
He acts like an old hand at it - I'm sure he watched his Mama do it many times before. But he takes it one step further -- he actually goes right into the bag and gets himself a nut. I mean he literally crawls all the way into my big green bag, so only his tail is visible. Other squirrels would never do such a thing, fearing a trap. But Squiggy the Squirrel is fearless-- at the moment! 

what do we have here...
it's in the bag

Good, a walnut

snooping around

found a pecan
Then when I walk away from the bench, Squiggy grabs the whole bag  and runs off with it! 
I'm so clever -- nobody will find me here...

I can see that peanut...
I can feel that peanut...
I can almost taste that peanut

still workin' it
(darn this is a tough nut to crack!)

Postscript - March 6
Spunky is alive! We were just standing around today after feed all the squirrels in the area for a second time, and were set to leave when suddenly Spunky walked up! We fell all over her with glee! We fed her a grape and a brazil nut, and then she took off.  We think she went back into her tree.  We waited about a half hour but she never came back. I think she's sick, but at least she's alive! I was so nonplussed that I neglected to get a picture (and she didn't stay very long) but her back looked a little better than the last time we saw her on March 2, and was certainly not worse. It's been four long days.

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