Description

I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.

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Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ghost Squirrel


Nowhere else on earth will you see the likes of Kaibab squirrel. Although you may meet its cousin Abert on the South Rim or even into central Arizona and New Mexico. Both are tassel-eared squirrels that haven’t seen each other in a very long time because of the Grand Canyon. There is a subtle difference to their look, Abert has a white belly and only the underside of its tail is white.

Almost all visitors to the North Rim want to know where to see the illusive Kaibab Squirrel. I usually send them to the campground. But all I have to do is watch quietly around my RV and will usually see one or two daily.

Kaibab squirrel lives in a rather small territory in the Kaibab forest and has a definite love affair with Ponderosa Pines. They build pine needle nests in them which they use all year, not just to raise young, but also to hide in during bad weather or from a predator like Goshawk. However, Kaibab doesn’t usually run up the tree it lives in. Instead it jumps from nearby trees with crossing branches so as not to advertise where it lives.

Kaibab eats the ever ripening nut in the pine cones all summer and into fall yet never caches away a thing for winter when it has to resort to twig tips, minus the unwanted cone bundles, which it chews the bark off and eats the living phloem beneath, then leaves behind piles of chew sticks. Ponderosa has a terp content like turpentine and Kaibab looks for the sweeter trees. It’s probably happy when spring arrives and new flowers appear loaded with pollen that gives it a yellow nose.

Plus its nose leads it to another food source which grows symbiotically with Ponderosa’s roots, a microrizal fungi, which maybe even you have eaten. Truffles grow about 1-3 inches underground and Kaibab digs them up to eat. However, the spores of the truffles don’t digest, so Kaibab leaves them behind when pooping and that will increase the fungi which helps the tree. These two have a pretty good thing going.

16 comments:

The Good Life in Virginia said...

what a cute little fellow. love that bushy white tail...beautiful.
and those ears!
enjoyed the info you shared too.
have a wonderful evening.

Diane C. said...

What a cutie! Fascinating that the Kaibab squirrel only lives on the North Rim. Just love those pointy ears and white tail, never knew these squirrels existed. How wonderful that you get to see them often. :)

Jazz said...

I have a love-hate relationship with squirrels, since they empty the bird feeders at the cottage - on the other hand they're just so damn cute. Course, if they only emptied the feeders without actually tearing them to bits, I wouldn't really mind.

However, bring a couple like them to the Laurentians, and I'll gladly feed them, they're beautiful. That tail is spectacular.

Janie said...

I saw a Kaibab squirrel once when we were in the north rim vicinity, but it didn't hang around for a photograph. I'm glad to learn about their life cycle. They're an interesting critter, and your "ghost" title is apt.

SandyCarlson said...

What an interesting character!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A most interesting article Gaelyn. I love those tufted ears and the white tail. I have an article (I think tomorrow) about the simbiotic relationship between ants and aphids/larvae. Interesting to study these things.

Michaelle said...

I was excited to find black squirrels in my neighborhood but your ghost is much more interesting. Glad you're feeling better!

Arija said...

What a wonderful little fellow, and to think that but for blogging, and following your blog in particular, I would have missed this wonderful experience!
What a helpful little guy he is to increase the truffle population as well.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great photographs and even better nature talk.

Quiet Paths said...

Fascinating post about another treasure of the SW. Truffle poopers?

Leanne said...

Thanks for a really interesting post it is always good to learn something. What amazing tails - we don't have squirrels here.

dAwN said...

That is the cuties little squirrel! Very interesting information!
I think i need to hike one of those fellows to find some truffles for me!

Martha Z said...

Great post, he sure is a handsom squirrel.

Glennis said...

Very cute, with such a beautiful tail, quite the prettiest squirrel I have ever seen. And he is actually helping the forest, how wonderful.

RuthieJ said...

I love that squirrel! Thanks for sharing the pictures and story with us.

Susie of Arabia said...

He really does look like he has a ghost following him around! Love this post!

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