Saturday, 16 June 2007

Someone has to ask

I spent several months in the Northern Hemisphere last year, and I saw hundreds of squirrels. Truly, hundreds. I even met a British squirrel eugenicist activist, who picked the wrong person (me) to inform proudly that Her Maj's government had recently legislated in favour of shooting grey American squirrels on the spot, no questions asked, presumption-of-innocence-be-buggered. Grey American squirrels, y'see, are infamously associated with the demise of the red indigenous non-American squirrel. I'm not exactly sure what the causal connection is, whether the grey squirrel buys up all the best real estate, or puts Rufus off his reproducing, or annoys him so much that he packs up shop and tries swimming across the Irish Sea. I'm really not certain, actually, that there is a causal connection. (Indeed, I have a theory that the grey is a scape-squirrel for the transatlantic ill-will generated by a certain war of independence and American substitution of the term "roundabout" for English "gyratory circus".)

So, I saw many a squirrel, but never - ay, here's the rub - never did I see so much as a skerrick of squirrel poo. And not for want of searching. I accept that squirrel poo is smaller, per unit, than, say, elephant poo, but surely it's still visible to the naked eye. I accept that it's probably highly biodegradable (here's hoping, anyway), but not so biodegradable that it vanishes into a puff of microbes upon contact with the earth. I accept that it camouflages pretty nicely, but so does wombat poo and rabbit poo and roo poo, and I've never had trouble seeing them poos. Here's my question - and I'm talking to you, oh coprologists, northern hemispehereans, and other interested parties - whither goeth the squirrel poo? Where do they hide it? What shape is it? I will not rest until someone brings me an answer. Please.

14 comments:

Karen said...

I'm afraid I don't know anything about the squirrel poo, but this grey-red squirrel business sounds like the possums in NZ- sensible reasons to do with flora and fauna with a bit of national enmity thrown in. Do the grey squirrels carry any diseases previously unknown to red squirrels?

At least squirrel poo is not like cat poo!

Karen said...

Sudden brainwave on the poo question (provoked by observation of Lizziecat- I will pass on your thanks): They probably bury it!

TimT said...

They lurk in trees, keeping a sharp eye out for any signs of littering or wrongdoing in the parks by visiting humans. And then, it's POOP! - right on the heads of the malefactors!

alexis said...

Tim, that looks to me like an idle calumny and an aspersion. Pooing on the malefactorial head, my hat. And what do the squirrels do when there are no malefactors around?

Karen, good theory. Very good. But wouldn't we then have seen the burial scratchings? And have you ever seen a squrrrrl digging?

TimT said...

They use the toilets, like any civilised creature?

Karen said...

Well, I've seen one scraping at the ground a bit... I imagine twigs and leaves are utilised.

Pat said...

Squirrel poo looks like grains of rice, is colored like dirt, and decomposes very quickly, making a sighting as rare as a hatchling pigeon.

alexis said...

Gee, thanks, Pat. Grains o' rice, eh? That could explain it. Three cheers for squirrel scat experts!

I met a lass from London last night, and raised the squirrel question. She couldn't illuminate the dung mystery, but did suggest that the demise of the red squirrel owes to a bit of transatlantic squirrel lovin', with the grey fur gene being dominant. (And apparently you'll sometimes see the descendent of a red-grey menage who'll be grey with a red tail.) She didn't put it like that, though. Instead she referred me to the genocidal sexual violence in Rwanda in the 90s. I prefer to think that the squirrels just enjoy each others' company.

JahTeh said...

I wish the possums around here would bury theirs. I'm surprised I haven't seen dung beetles in safari wagons pulling up to collect.

alexis said...

Wow! You've got lots, have you? You could probably bundle it up and sell it by the 50 gram parcel at the boutique nursery in North Fitzroy.

cistern harlot said...

Better a squirrel poo on the head than a pat on the head.

alexis said...

Haw haw! Get it? A cow pat on the head! Ha!

prude said...

You can ask whether the squirrel is a folder or a scruncher? This is important material of material importance.

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