Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ET at Home

The other day we were feeling pretty lucky to find ET at home with the kids. Well... not exactly "with" them... more like "against" them. 
ET on a tree-- it's all about me!

Who is ET?

First, a bit of  history. Once upon a time there were two beautiful little squirrels that lived in the Orange Tree. One was named Alphie (Alpha Squirrel) and the other named Betie (Beta Squirrel). Alphie was superior in every way imaginable for a squirrel-- beautiful, strong, gutsy and sweet.  So we decide he was going to grow up to be an Alpha Squirrel. Betie we didn't get to know as well because she was very shy, and she soon disappeared (or so we thought). They both loved to play a game where they'd chase after peanuts and bury them, then race back for more  --  they'd play this game over and over, never tiring of it.  We didn't know it at the time, but we now think that their mother was probably Red Momma.

Alpha Squirrel
Then one day it seemed like Alphie had turned into a terrible bully who was constantly  attacking the other squirrels. It was hard to believe that sweet-tempered Alphie would do such a thing. But then we discovered that it was not him after he somehow got his tail bent out of shape, and we were able to distinguish between him and the bully. We then called the bully Alphie's Evil Twin, or ET.

ET poised to pounce!
As time passed, ET continued her errant ways, and eventually evicted Red Momma from the Orange Tree on a cold winter's night. At that point we had realized that ET was a she, and this was classic female squirrel behavior. We were learning about some squirrel survival strategies: how females will frequently gain control of an entire tree to ensure the safety of their babies.

It wasn't until much later that we put it together that ET was actually the long-lost Betie! And
ET's autumn camouflage
that she may have evicted her own mother!

ET reigned supreme in the Orange Tree throughout the winter and spring, and no other squirrel was ever seen near the tree. It was all hers!

She seemed to relax the rules in the summer. Then in the fall, she had her babies, which began making their appearance in October. They were fun to watch in the beginning, when they would venture down the tree, then run back up before they touched ground. But they're on the ground now and almost as big as their mother (ET is a small squirrel, although her miserable personality more than makes up for size when she throws her weight around).

ET Eating

Don't bother me when  I'm eating

this tastes good
opening wider
The Babies!

all four together
It was a rare treat to find ET and all four kids together around the tree, and better yet to find a nice photographer named Valentin Vasilevskiy, who was taking these beautiful pictures with his Nikon.

hello world!
Four healthy, beautiful babies -- three auburn clones of ET and one gray. Mother did a great job, although it's hard to imagine this self-centered, nasty squirrel actually nursing babies! Now that the birthing honeymoon is over, she springs on them like any other squirrel that gets in her space! We hope this doesn't mess up their psyches too much. We've already observed one of them standing up to her and emulating her by trying to pounce on other squirrels.



D'Artagnan: gray pride

a peanut thief looks guilty when caught in the act...
and makes a hasty getaway

Many thanks to Valentin Vasilevskiy for his amazing photographs!


No comments:

Post a Comment