I am not alone. There are others like me.
The afflicted among us keep our thoughts to ourselves to avoid ridicule from others, and are overjoyed when we find like-minded kin. We make secret purchases at the grocery store, and then proceed to the nearest park.
We are the squirrel fanciers. And there's more of us than you'd expect!
Viewed by many as a garden destroyer or simply a rat with a more attractive tail, our local critter -- the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) -- might not have a big fan club, but spend a little time with them in your local park, and your mind will change. In fact, these chaps are the perfect remedy for a glum mood.
They're cute, curious, gregarious and their Latin genus name fits them perfectly -- they're scurrying Sciurus! These are fascinating animals to watch. With boundless energy, squirrels are able to perform physical feats of derring-do with the aid of extraordinary balance and hind feet that can rotate 180 degrees. In their still moments you can observe examples of their extensive communication system made up of varied vocalizations, postures, and tail flicking.
And that tail? It's the ultimate accessory! Besides balance and communication uses, it doubles as a sunshade, or a wrap in cold weather.
Lest you think that their only purpose is to entertain, squirrels help tree populations by widely distributing acorns.
Intrigued? Get more details about their life cycle from my other blog, NYCNatureNews (pardon the lack of images as I'm doing a big update to the site).
So grab a bag of peanuts and get to the park! As this video from our local spot shows, there's no better way to spend $2 and a couple hours. I guarantee a smile.