Sunday, April 29, 2012

What's wrong with Spunky's ear?

Spunky comes right down when I call her.

I admire her new coat of fur.

it's soft and silky and the awful spots have disappeared
(although there's a white speck on her nose now).

You can see new black fur coming in --beautiful!
But then I notice something on and below her ear.

A closer look shows those awful sores.

Oh dear, what can the matter be with Spunky's ear?
I'm afraid the infection in Spunky is systemic and never really goes away, showing up in different places, and this seems to happen after a period of neglect. So much for those who tell me not to feed the squirrels! It's not that I've been deliberately neglecting her, but the last few times I've been there, she was not around.  I'd like to know what this infection is, and if there's a cure for it. She's been much better since we took her to the vet, where she got a 6-day course of antibiotics and healed up beautifully. Not sure how it works, but it must be on time-release. Maybe she needs another one. But I'll see what I can do by providing some good nutrition.

Meanwhile Squiggy, Son of Spunky, is doing just fine.
Hi: I'm Squiggy.

Letting it all hang out.

Can I help you with something?
I'm kinda busy right now.
You wouldn't happen to have another nut, would you?

Little Squirt is doing just fine too.
Squirt is Squiggy's smaller sibling - wow, is that sibilant! He's not only smaller, but shyer. He doesn't play tricks like Squiggy does - like running up your leg or jumping into your bag to grab a peanut -- or sitting up on the bench next to you to eat, like his mother and brother do, but he's still sweet and charming, as these photos show. I'm glad to see that he's healthy, and must be getting enough to eat in spite of his reticence. 

I'm the little Squirt
have something for me?

life's a tree

coming down...wheee!

April 30 Update
When I went back the next day to feed the ailing Spunky, I received a big surprise (squirrels are full of surprises): So-called Spunky wasn't Spunky at all! We've discussed this case of double identity before:

When Spunky isn't there I find it impossible to tell the difference between her and the other squirrel. But when they're both there together, I can immediately tell the difference (mostly due to Spunky's expressions and personality). I really should give this other squirrel a name, so let's call her Spanky. She already answers to Spunky, so won't even notice the slight difference. She could be Spunky's identical twin sister. I did think it was a bit odd yesterday that Spunky had descended from Spanky's tree when I called her. I neglected to mention that. Now I know why... it was Spanky! Anyway, Spanky looked a little bit better today, and Spunky looked just fine! Of course, she's still nursing, so that's the reason for the pink spot.
The real Spunky

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Mushrooms busting out all over!
to eat or not to eat... that is the question.
what are they? they might be fairy ring mushrooms.
Fairy Rings?
might be a ring

someone took a bite out of this one...

the underside has gills
a few days later: still going strong


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Hunger Game

A  woman walking by hisses at me: "Are you feeding them?" With great emphasis on the word feeding. As if I was committing a crime. I don't see how anyone can be aware of hunger and not respond. Many people don't seem to notice the suffering that's going on right under their noses. It's almost like a parallel universe that they choose to ignore.

Lady Squirrel is pregnant
I was sitting on a bench by the west flagpole, sort of waiting for Red to show up, when I heard a rustling sound. I looked down at my shopping bag and through a hole in the bag I saw a squirrel eye peering up at me. There was a squirrel in my bag! It was the funniest thing, but before I had time to turn my camera on, out jumped Lady Squirrel - a very pregnant Lady Squirrel. She was being very agressive and I understood why -- she was famished. As were the other squirrels around her. I don't normally feed them over there and I'm wondering now if anyone does do it regularly. I've always assumed they did. The little squirrel called Red is beautiful and obviously well taken care of. But these squirrels I was seeing now obviously hadn't eaten in a while. Lady Squirrel ( I call her that because she was always eating peanuts in the rose garden before they cut the rose bushes back for winter) was hungry.  She also looked kind of raggedy. So I spent the next hour feeding her all sorts of nuts, spoiling her.
Other hungry squirrels came around too of course, and I must say, she engaged in some rather unladylike behavior, growling at those who tried to get close, and chasing others away. She acted like she owned me. It broke my heart.

I came back to visit two days later bearing avocado, and she ran up to me immediately and took up residence under my cart, only coming out for a nut or to chase other squirrels away.

A couple days later, after some heavy rain and wind storms, I found her again. Or should I say, she found me? Whenever I go over there now she immediately appears, which prompts me to ask once again, do squirrels sit up there in the trees with telescopes, keeping watch?
what goodies do you have for me today?

one teat has become very swollen
It looks like she's nursing but she's still very fat.

I can't imagine not feeding the hungry whenever and wherever we encounter them.

It does the heart good.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Sweet It Is! (Squirrel Love)

Let me tell you about the sweetest thing I ever saw.

A surprise...
I was walking in PCV the other day, and as I approached the Orange Tree, I saw two squirrels on a branch up there engaged in what appeared to be a squirrel's version of necking and petting.

At first I thought they were mating. At one point it seemed that the male (on the left) was attempting to mount the female. But that didn't go far, and she wasn't making any of the typical moves to get away. Then it seemed like he was kissing her! And if that wasn't enough, when the male retreated after some more nuzzling, the female advanced and kissed him!

The next surprise...
came when I rattled the peanut bag, and the male interrupted his activity and came running down the tree, leaving the female sitting alone on the branch. I have seen females interrupt the mating process to grab a nut, but I have never known a male in the middle of mating to take an interest in eating.

The next surprise...
came when the male reached me, and I saw that it was... Alphie!

Oh. My. God.
The next surprise...
was when the female followed him down. As she descended, I realized that it was none other than... Red Mama!
Red Mama
By this time I was completely bowled over.  It even occurred to me that Red Mama could easily be Alphie's mother, given their age difference (Alphie is a junior squirrel, just emerging from babyhood) and their similar coloration. And her current nest is in the Orange Tree that Alphie came from. If not, then kissin' cousins at least!

Will surprises never cease!  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Red Mama

Having babies can take a toll on a squirrel. Here's an example of that. I call her "Red Mama" because when I first met her she was a nice big red colored squirrel, who was starting to have skin problems. Here's how she looked a month ago, on March 13. She was pregnant:

She was a beautiful color, as can seen in these pictures taken in the sunlight a few days later, on March 17, where she looks like an Irish squirrel!

Here she is on 3/25. She was soon to have her babies, when everything would change.

By 3/28 she looks thinner and darker, and her skin looks worse: I think she's had her babies.

I barely recognize her. The  red squirrel has disappeared and a black squirrel has taken her place. Here she is coming down the orange tree, where her nest of babies must be:

Red Mama and Alphie
On April 10, a couple days after Easter, I was shocked to find her covered all over with bleeding sores. I had missed feeding her for a just couple of days -- could such a short time have made such a difference? Apparently so.

surrounded by bullies
 (squirrels will bully a squirrel that is weak or sick)

We started feeding her heavy-duty -- a variety of nuts, avocado and grapes -- and we never missed a day. A week later, on 4/18, she was fully recovered. Look ma, no sores!

She has great energy now, a good appetite, and runs around like a normal squirrel. But she's a different looking squirrel from a month ago.