The squirrels that I see in our yard and in municipal parks are so accustomed to people that they don’t pay us much mind. But when we venture into more remote settings, squirrels soon remind us that we are big, scary creatures.
While my daughter and I were exploring Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve, we caught the attention of the squirrel below. When he had first noticed us, he tried scurrying up the trunk and clinging to the tree. However after holding that position briefly he apparently felt that he was too noticeable, so he dropped to the base of the tree.
Next he pressed his body into the ground as he prepares to assume his ultimate disguise.
Here is his attempt to camouflage himself with his reddish tail, which is even more red than normal because he is displaying part of its underside. Behold his ultimate, woodland disguise as he melds into the background like a true ninja.
I loved how he thought he was hiding behind his own tail. He was completely committed to this defensive strategy, freezing in place. Even as we proceeded down the trail so that his tail was no longer positioned between his body and us, he dared not move an inch. Below is a nice photo showing how he was holding his tail beside his body.
I suspect that this strategy would work better against a color-blind predator than against us. I hope he doesn’t do his camouflage trick if a color-seeing bird of prey decides to swoop down and have him for lunch. While we were hiking there we heard a red-tailed hawk scream several times, so we know there was at least one nearby.
I was reminded of another way that squirrels use their tails. It was raining when I took the photo below, and it shows a squirrel using his tail as an umbrella to keep his core warm and dry in the rain. He’s even tucked his front paws under his body for extra warmth.
I thought that the top squirrel might be a red squirrel, but after looking it up on the web, I am inclined to think it is a hybrid. It is large and has a very bushy tail like the gray squirrel pictured on the bottom, but the top one’s tail is much more colorful.
Here’s to squirrels and all their tail tricks!
More on Wayne County
7 thoughts on “Ninja Squirrel at Johnson Woods”
Hi Deb, you have very nice blog here 🙂 Excellent squirrel pictures and funny story, especially one about using tail as an umbrella. Here’s one European squirrel I managed to shoot: http://my.opera.com/serola/albums/showpic.dml?album=5418132&picture=148961862
Sami, thank you! I did look at your WordPress profile, and I got a laugh out of reading that you didn’t even remember having a WordPress account. It turns out that I had a WordPress account at least a year before I started my blog here. That’s because some sites require readers to have such an account just to comment on an article, so that’s originally why I set up mine.
I will definitely check out your European squirrel photo. 🙂
Was on a picnic in Washington, D.C. once when a squirrel raided our container of cookies. Heard this rustling noise behind me and turned to see him run off with one. Chocolate chip must have been his favorite, too. 🙂 Aren’t squirrels the cutest? I love the little red ones. So feisty. Keep on blogging! Exploring nature is the best.
Kelsey, I’ve never heard of squirrels sneaking off with chocolate chip cookies before (good choice of cookies ). That would have been really fun to watch!
Have you seen the European red squirrels with the ear tufts? I wish some of ours had ear tufts… They’re just too cute.
Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging words!
OMG, those ear tufts!!! SO cute.
These are best squirrel photos I have seen ever!
That’s so nice of you to say!
I have some photos of white squirrels that I’m thinking of publishing. Plus I have a photo of a ring-tailed squirrel that was visiting my bird feeder. It’s tail reminded me of a raccoon’s tail!