Things Are a Little Squirrelly Around Here


It turns out that yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day. You can’t make this stuff up. And when you recognize just how squirrelly American politics have gotten, well, it’s obviously time for a post on squirrels. The rodents; not human politicians.

There are dozens of squirrel species in North America alone. WC will focus on three ground squirrels, species of squirrel that live underground.

Arctic Ground Squirrel, Denali National Park

Arctic Ground Squirrel, Denali National Park

Arctic Ground Squirrels (Citellus parryi) are a higher elevation species found in Alaska and northwestern Canada, and are an important part of the alpine food chain. They’re also called Sik-sik pups, after their calls, and Parka Squirrels by Athabascan Indianss because, yeah, enough of them make a pretty good winter parka. WC has seen early autumn Sik-sik pups so pudgy with pre-winter fat that they could barely waddle. Like this guy.

For contrast, here’s one of his Idaho cousins, the Idaho Ground Squirrel.

Idaho Ground Squirrel, Weiser, Idaho

Idaho Ground Squirrel, Weiser, Idaho

This is the southern subspecies (Citellus brunneus endemicus), and an endangered species. Pretty clearly, this individual didn’t get the memo.

Piute Ground Squirrel, Morley Nelson Birds of Prey Conservation Area

Piute Ground Squirrel, Morley Nelson Birds of Prey Conservation Area

The Piute Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus mollis) was recently split from Townsend’s Ground Squirrel. The Piute is endemic to the Great Basin, and is pretty common in sagebrush habitat. It’s the Piute Ground Squirrel, in their incredible numbers, that make the Birds of Prey such a magnet for wintering and breeding raptors.

Birds, not squirrels, are WC’s preferred photography subject. But if one wanders in to the frame, WC has been known to press the shutter. Anyway, a belated Squirrel Appreciation Day to all of WC’s readers. And keep there rodents in mind as you contemplate the current political scene.

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