Not long ago, I saw a squirrel without a tail gathering leaves for the coming winter… and thus begins the wondering. Maybe a dog caught the tail like a prize; maybe the squirrel was born that way; maybe the tail fell off for no reason; maybe a squirrel is not really a squirrel at all without it’s cheerful tail.
A squirrel without a tail is like a teenager without a coat, and not only that, without warm blankets in the house. After the harvest is in, and the acorns are stashed under a freezing ground, squirrels busy themselves by creating cozy winter homes, expertly weaving sticks together in the crook of a tree, complete with a roof, and lined with dry leaves, grass and moss.
The leaves are off the trees, so look up and encourage kids to study the silhouette of bare branches against the sky. Do squirrels nest in small trees? (No.) Does every tree have a nest and only one nest? (Sometimes; the nests on the outer branches tend to be summer homes.) Do those messy leaf nests really have squirrels inside them? (Yes.) By the way, that game of chicken that squirrels play with cars as they attempt to cross the road? It’s the squirrel’s crafty attempt to trick your car, the predator, by cleverly switching directions at the very last minute.
Once winter sets in, there’s not much for squirrels to do, except munch on cold acorns for breakfast and then hang around all day. Squirrels are social animals and winter rings in a season of cheer, as squirrels visit one another’s nest, especially on cold winter nights for added warmth. Hopefully, as temperatures drop, my squirrel without a tail and our teenagers without coats will get a few extra visitors full of warmth and good cheer this holiday season.