For the Easily Distracted…SQUIRREL!

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.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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).

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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).

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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.

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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….

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

.. well these shots were on the ground and not a rock. Science people!

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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!”…

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

… and theatrical poses. ‘Well, how shocking, I would have never guessed those small dirt eating rodents carried Bubonic plague!”

Squirrel family member found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

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.

14 thoughts on “For the Easily Distracted…SQUIRREL!”

  1. How many monks can a chipmunk chip when a chipmunk is chipping monks? Cute chipper and squirrelly looking squirrel. We’ve had lows of 28ºF in the mornings and up to 83ºF by mid afternoons. Our temps are really swinging. Although, it’s dry as a bone here. Hovering around 8% to 10% humidity. It so dry that farting in the forest will ignite trees. We have some deadly forest fires raging in NM right now.

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    1. We have been getting the swings here as well – 29 a few days ago and now expected to be in the 80s for the weekend. Unlike you, we are not having to deal with any dryness – did they put a ban on baked beans until you get some rain ha! As our typical spring goes, we are getting a lot of rain which thankfully give our wells a nice recharge. Oh, and I believe the number monks is three.. or was that licks to a lollipop, can’t remember hehehehe. Thanks for stopping by Timothy.

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  2. Very cute little critters. Some looked similar to what we called “13 Stripe Ground Squirrels” because they had, guess what, thirteen stripes!
    Stay strong, we are but a phone call away.

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    1. In fact, I did read about those 13 stripers when trying to figure out what the hell these things were. Was hoping to get lucky, but alas the stripe count came up short. I also got side-tracked reading about the 9-Banded Armadillo, so I even managed to “Squirrel” myself. Appreciate the support and thanks for dropping in.

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    1. It is absolutely amazing how texturing and coloring can really allow an animal to blend in with its environment. Case in point, Ron and I were out doing a quick birding outing at a local state park last week and managed to find two Brown Creepers – by we, I mean Ron as he’s become Creeper whisperer somehow and spotted these while I was clueless staring at the same trees. I tried to focus on getting lower for these shots and I think that really added to the overall cute factor for some of the shots – Linda wasn’t exactly pleased with the extra laundry duties ha! Appreciate you coming by Sam.

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  3. Cute, but I wouldn’t cuddle any of these! They can also carry rabies so if they are of the “me too” generation and you think a cuddle is nice and friendly…well…”at your own risk” says the legal department.😂🤣 Ride the roller coaster, I am sure it will level out one day.😊

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    1. People (read relatives) wonder why I never want to be hugged — thinking of adding plague and rabies as my response as I back away as they approach with arms out. Admittedly, if there was one miniscule positive of COVID, it thankfully stopped a lot of the hugging. Still probably only midway through coaster ride, been quite the experience. Thanks for the support – I think you you and all your posts on the Dutch flower fields when I look at all the cut flowers I’m currently surrounded by.

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      1. There is one thing for sure…the Dutch are making money if you are surrounded by flowers! Cut or grown the Dutch own 95% of the World flower market. Mind boggling!!! Hang on for the ride. They say roller coasters are fun, but… as I get older I am finding my enthusiasm for them less and less. Thoughts are with you guys.

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      2. I am stunned 95% of the world market. I had no clue, just seen your shots of the fields and fields of flowers. Yeah, with you on the whole rollercoaster front. Was never a big fan – blame that on my fear of heights and clowns – coasters. I group in the city where the state fair is held and was quite aware of the shady people working the controls – being up high didn’t give me a lot of escape options – and the clowns… well, I blame EVERYTHING on clowns so no surprise there. Appreciate you keeping us in your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you Reed! Glad you were able to get some enjoyment out of the post. There will be several more “fur” related posts coming soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. I clicked on your Post and was surprised I am behind 3 post. I check in to see if you have made a post a couple times a week, knowing you have a lot going on right now. I do enjoy your photos and stories. I am glad I was able to remind you of some photos you had in the que and such pretty little guys. They look like they have been eating well. My first impression of the larger squirrel was a Rock Squirrel, only because it looks like the ones I saw in Texas, with a larger head. Now off to read your next two post. 🙂

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    1. I had a bit of extra time with all the watch duties which allowed me to get a few posts out. I just might hit my monthly quota of 6 months. Glad to hear you are entertained by my photos and ramblings! You were definitely the catalyst for this post. I admit my knowledge on these furballs is a bit sketchy – birds I can figure out, but trying to figure out things like whether one stripe is wider than another’s is quite daunting. I’d easily go with Rock Squirrel on that especially since you have first hand experience now. Don’t waste too much time on my posts, you have birds to tin ha! Appreciate you dropping in Sandra and providing the inspiration for the post… which as you will probably notice led to a entire series related to these creatures.

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