Thursday, April 18, 2013

Talking Squirrel

Gray Momma has appropriated the finest tree around for her babies, and defends it very well. Today I see her sitting outside their den, enjoying the sunshine and 60 degree weather. Such a contrast to the cold weather when we first met!

This once beautiful squirrel looks a bit bedraggled these days. Her beautiful tail has become quite scraggly and her skin condition has not improved and may have worsened. The babies have been wearing her out. I wonder how many there are. 

Gray Momma loves to talk. When she comes down today and she starts talking right away. What she is saying I do not know, but I imagine she's expressing pleasure.

Every once in a while she breaks away to chase some squirrel who is trying to climb her tree --  first they run up the tree then down in a quick scramble that's faster than the eye. After she runs the hapless squirrel off she returns to resume her meal. She's a very watchful parent, and those little babies of hers are very lucky to have her and to have their nice safe nest in that big tree. I hope they are all doing ok. Can't wait to meet them!

Squirrel Talk

Short (less than a minute) 
Long (4 minutes)

So she talks to me and I talk to her. We may not know what we're saying to each other but we do know that we're talking to each other. How intelligent are squirrels? I have recently become even more interested in that question, after observing the mind-boggling intelligence of an eagle family in Florida (via a web cam) this past winter. The bird cams that are proliferating now are life changers. You will never again think about birds the same way after watching them like this. It's why I have always been interested in observing the squirrels up close and personal.

Up to this point there has been little thought given to the idea that during the time that our own intelligence was evolving, animal intelligence was also evolving. When you think about it, it makes sense: if the human animal's intelligence can evolve, why not that of the other animals?

A recent post At the Edge of the Wood  tells us that that according to scientist
 Frans De Waal "A growing body of evidence shows, that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence".

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