Red Squirrels, Cape Breton

Although I have no time for the squirrels that eat my tulip bulbs and magnolia buds, I admit that I thought these little guys were sort of cute when I encountered them on the trail in another province altogether. If familiarity breeds contempt, maybe distance breeds tolerance.

Of course, I didn’t plant the trees whose buds they were cutely chewing through, chowing down, and spitting out.

2-photo collag eof red squirrels in Cape BretonI continue to be amazed at what close-ups reveal that I can’t see or don’t notice in the field: in this case, the long, hairy, and sharply clawed fingers and toes of this rodent.

Close-up of red squirrel hands and feet


  1. Alison Uhrbach

    Isabel, I’m pretty sure in these photos they are chewing on pine/spruce cones – they pull off the scales, and then eat the seeds which are tucked under the scales. Norway Spruce have the most nutritious seeds – but I’m not sure what yours are eating. They also will eat the tips of trees – but probably in the spring when they are soft and green (like squirrel salad) but really, that just prunes the tree so that it will grow thicker, so not a big problem? I agree, squirrels can be a big nuisance, but they are also fascinating to watch, and incredibly industrious.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – Well, they do illustrate a point that Barbara has made in these pages – if you look long enough at anything (even a squirrel) it’s beautiful. Although I do think these red squirrels are objectively nicer looking than the black/grey variant in Ottawa. A little smaller, I think, they evoke something of “chipmunk.” And who doesn’t like a chipmunk?

  2. Jim Taylor

    I like the way they keep their backs — or spines — warm with their tails. I sympathize, because I find as long as I can keep my back warm, the rest of me doesn’t seem to suffer much from cold.
    Jim T

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