My least favorite squirrel: California Ground Squirrel

California ground squirrel

California ground squirrel / Courtesy of Alan Vernon

I was looking forward to seeing the mottled little California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi), but I may have found a squirrel I don’t really like. Or at least one that doesn’t like me.

These little spectacled rodents are all over California. You can see their little den holes in the dusty chapparel. Wikipedia says they are “common and easily observed ground squirrel of the western United States.” Easily observed, my ass.

You won’t see one if they see you first. There are other squirrels who aren’t shy. A few fox squirrels flagged their tails at me, then went back to eating the black walnuts of Franklin Canyon.

Sure, I’d see the endless burrow holes everywhere. They look like the rat holes I see in NYC parks. Every once in a while I’d see a flash of brown and hear somebody run into a hole.
Look, I know this behavior helps the squirrel survive life in the big city. I guess the Uinta ground squirrels at Yellowstone spoiled me. As a squirrel rehabber, I found all this skittishness off-putting. Sure, flying squirrels are shy, too. But they’re tiny, nocturnal and have got something special to hide.

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