Dissecting Spikey


What makes for a successful moocher squirrel? It is time to reflect on the special qualities of our lead squirrel.

Spikey is a typical and by that we mean an “average joe” Grey Squirrel (Sciurus caroliniensis). He is about 18 inches in length and half of that is bushy tail. Like most Grey Squirrels, his fur may be described as grey with tan colored hairs scattered through the coat. Some describe it as grizzled, while to the more culinarily inclined, the phrase “salt and pepper” might come to mind. The white underbelly is another blatant and shameless effort to be the epitome of cuteness.

In Canada, where Spikey hails from, many of his relatives may be completely covered in black fur instead of grey. You would think that these black squirrels would be called, well, “black squirrels”. “Ahh! But that would be too easy” said the scientists who promptly declared that they are “melanistic forms of the gray squirrel”. Why don’t they call a spade, a spade? Can’t decide if this is some form of scientific gobblegook or some extreme form of political correctness since scientists all know that the squirrel-lovers are a strong and vocal political constituency.

But I digress. I would refer you to this handsome specimen in the photograph above. I am sorry, this still is not a picture of our beloved Spikey. I promise to have an image of him up as soon as I have saved enough to buy my own scanner because all his photos are not in digital format but in prints. In the meantime, his stand-in is actually a professional model who frquently poses for photos
at www.greysquirrel.net. Examine the specimen carefully and you will understand just how wonderfully equipped the Grey Squirrel is to hypnotise, enchant and even bewitch defenceless humans.

Seeing these tools employed by a master is breath-taking; not to mention peanut-taking too. I can still imagine sitting on a small stool in my small garden, in the cool of the evening shadows. By my side on the wooden boardwalk, a small pile of peanuts. Not long after, Spikey will arrive but he will hide in the bushes and from that vantage point, survey the scene. Not unlike a virtuoso performer at a concert, peering out from behind the heavy red curtains to get a measure of the audience.

Then, the grand entrance is signalled by his arrival on the far end of the boardwalk. At this point, the only thing moving is the long bushy tail but it is dancing excitedly to the left and right, like the jiggling of a fisherman’s bait, luring us in. Once, the scoundrel feels he has the viewer hooked, he begins to move along the boardwalk in a strange rhythmic dance with emphatic but alluring movements of the hips. I was hypnotised by this long before I experienced Shakira in the video, “Hips don’t lie”.

The dance brings him to an arms length from the pile of nuts. Now Spikey flashes his side profile. First his right and then his left as if he is not sure which is his better side. I suspect that he does this so that I can get a better view of his eyes which are like bright pools of liquid bliss and tranquility; all at the same time piqueing my interest while lowering my heart rate and blood pressure (hence squirrel feeding is medically recommeded). This is where, he also employs telephathy to read my mind to make sure I have not recently changed from being a docile, squirrel-feeding slave.

Thus assured, he finally reaches for the nuts, take two steps back and start eating. Immediately, one becomes aware that Spikey is a messy eater. Even as he feeds a nut through his sizeable incisors in the front, like a plank being planed by a buzz saw, bits and pieces fly out through the sides of his mouth. Having given a fantastic performance of dance, theater and magic, he ends with one final ingredient, comedy. Slapstick comedy. Good night and thank you for watching the show. There will be another performance tomorrow at about the same time. Bring peanuts.

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