We had to break our hiatus for a little celebration…
Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!
Thank you for following our squirrel stories on The Squirrel Nutwork and, out in the real world, enjoying the antics of 200 species of squirrels everywhere!
However, we squirrels aren’t naive enough to believe all humans love us. Some become very angry when we help ourselves to the food you put out for other wildlife, or take the opportunity to widen a hole in your house to provide a safe place to rear our kits.
Maybe some of you can explain that we are all sharing space in a world where wild places are getting harder to find, and acorns aren’t falling from every tree. (What are some of those species that do nothing but look pretty?)
For today, let’s celebrate that Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator from Asheville, North Carolina, cared enough about squirrels to create a day to honor us! Thank you, Christy!
For today’s mystery, I’m asking if you know what kind of turtle this is?
I’ll check back later for your answers!
We’ve had a few correct guesses, so I decided to pop in and confirm that the turtles are Red-eared Sliders. That red mark along the side of the head is quite distinctive, as is their ability to ‘slide’ into the water when danger approaches.
Red-eared sliders are now a common turtle in ponds even outside their normal range, and are considered invasive. Unfortunately, this is because many have escaped or been let go as pets. They eat both plants and animals in the water, preferring still water of ponds, but also slow-moving streams and rivers. With high numbers and more rugged ability to adapt, the red-eared sliders replace shyer, native turtles and might be one of the reasons frogs are on the decline.
No, it’s not a native, but Lenten Rose does grow nicely with a naturalized look. Even better it adds a very early, long-bloomer to your garden that will help bees and other insects when little else is blooming. And Miz Flora says here’s a tip you human gardeners will like: Deer and rabbits don’t like to eat Hellebores. Their leaves produce a poisonous alkaloid that tastes bad–but note this might bother humans with sensitive skin.
It is a Chestnut bur–the name for the seed covering–as one of our readers guessed, but not a Horse Chestnut. Those are only a little prickly, not covered with spines like these chestnut burs. The chestnuts themselves are protected inside the burs.
These nuts don’t look like they fully ripened, but they were all that were left when we ran across them. Probably the local squirrels found and ate the best ones, because we squirrels will eat tree nuts of any kind–that is, once they are free from spines!
The nuts had also fallen from the burs still on the tree. We admit we aren’t quite sure which kind of chestnut tree this is. Nutmeg and I looked it up on The American Chestnut Foundation website and believe the leaves are wide enough the tree was probably an American Chestnut. But we also realize that is unusual. This tree was a good 30 feet high, but it was in a human’s yard, not the forest, so it was planted. Let’s hope whatever clever mix the human scientists used to keep this Chestnut from getting the Chestnut blight keeps working!