Greetings everyone! I planned to wish everyone a happy spring as I’m in the midst of an unfortunate lull in April posting… but last night it got to 29F here and flurries the night before that. Sure doesn’t feel like spring especially out on my long runs. I still have limited time, but I wanted to start trickling out some content – gives me a chance to escape the current situation and keep the dust from getting too thick. Expect these will be more of gallery shows vs entertaining story-telling (I think I just heard a cheer ha).
Need to thank friend of the blog Sandra J. at Into the Light Adventures (link here) for today’s topic. She recently made a post on desert animals that reminded me I had a similar one in the hopper – had the added benefit of aligning with the current squirrely times.
Hit the jump to see more of the Tahoe Squirrels.
Okay, first off, I know very little about these furballs and not even positive they all fall in the Squirrel family. I am much better at creatures with wings. As a general rule, there are some characteristic that allows you to differentiate birds (little brown jobbers are an exception of course). When it comes to these furry things they all have four legs, two ears and covered in some form of grey or brown fur. Trust me, that DuckDuckgo search doesn’t help much (I am pretty sure these are not Bison).
Astute readers are probably screaming at the monitor about now – “Are you blind, they have stripes, eye rings and eye brows – get yourself a reference book”. They are correct, of course, but that just makes it slightly easier than trying to eat a Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ‘N Honey breakfast bar without dropping crumbs all over the place (in other words, slightly .. just slightly above impossible!) I had taken a stab at it prior to everything taking a turn so I’ll go with those IDs for now. Please add any corrections or other options in the comments as I always appreciate the opportunity to learn.
So, the first to shots are likely a Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel. All of these shots, by the way, were taken on our trip to Tahoe back in May 2019. They are all most likely western US based, although some may have broader regions. Per the reference materials, the Golden is often mistaken for a Least Chipmunk but the stripes do not extend up the head.
Not a bad description granted you have a Least Chipmunk as a reference. Enter stage top. From what I can tell this diminutive looking specimen is either a Least or possibly a Uinta Chipmunk. From what I can tell, this is a Least. The Uinta has wide stripes where our specimen seems to have narrower ones. Sorry, no Uinta in the series to compare with. Regardless of the proper ID, 100% cute as hell.
While digging into the Squirrel-like creatures of Lake Tahoe, I stumbled on a fairly disturbing bit of information. Per the local Tahoe news site, their chipmunks have a high occurrence of Bubonic Plague in their Chipmunks. Yes, you read that right. Gave me a little shudder knowing how close I came to scooping one up, hugging it and giving it a giant sloppy kiss. Okay, ya got me – that NEVER crossed my mind, but still glad the urge didn’t come over me.
Do feel a bit sorry that such a cute creature has to deal with that plague. There is a rabbit hole calling me while wondering if Bubonic would then jump to birds of prey or to other creatures with a Chipmunk on its menu. Must resist the jump, not enough time. Do have one more shot of these fur covered happiness pills (DO NOT INGEST).
This might be a good time to point out that there are 65 Squirrel species in the US. That breaks down into 24 of the Ground variety, 4 of the Prairie kind, 5 of those rascally Marmots (link here and here), 22 of the Bubonic plague carriers and a shockingly low number of Tree Squirrels. Not to completely spoil the mystery, there will be a number of Squirrel posts heading your way.
Now time to up the size factor.
No stripes, both grey and brown fur, two ears, four feet and a tail – yeah, I’m grasping for straws. My best guess is either a Uinta Ground Squirrel or a Rock Squirrel. Probably leaning to a Ground Squirrel because….
.. well these shots were on the ground and not a rock. Science people!
Regardless whether a Rock or a Ground variety, these cuddle balls are a joy to photograph. This one wasn’t scared at all having a giant black bazooka pointed at it. Quite the contrary, as it spent a better part of 30 minutes just hamming it up for the camera. A regular ol’ variety show complete with vocal impressions “Ehhhh what’s up Doc!”…
… and theatrical poses. ‘Well, how shocking, I would have never guessed those small dirt eating rodents carried Bubonic plague!”
Act II was a full throttle rendition of “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” complete with costume changes. “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over that diseased Chipmunk.” Sounded less like Nancy and more like Alvin, but still impressive for an animal I didn’t even know could talk much less sing.
Well, that was a welcome bit of distraction – time to get back to issues at hand. Hope you enjoyed a quick run through the Squirrels we found around Tahoe.