Mohan Thulasingam

Mohan ThulasingamHumans are the only species on Earth that claim to possess the sixth sense but behave unintelligently. Might be that they think too much, get trapped in unwanted worries, and end up without enjoying the life. Nature is the best tutor as it throws up an infinite number of methods, tactics, and tricks on how to live happily without the botheration such as greed, enmity, and future. A careful observation of the happenings in Nature will amaze anyone about the simplicity and beauty woven around life itself.

Among the animals, the squirrel is the most charming and the dog remains the most loyal friend of man. The unique characteristics of squirrel are listed here. There are over 250 species of squirrel worldwide, ranging from the smallest squirrel African Pygmy to the Indian giant squirrel measuring three feet long. The animal is said to have helped Lord Rama in laying the Sethu bridge across the Palk strait and got a divine blessing-pat that left the mark of the three stripes on its back. Let’s examine the interesting facts about this cute animal.

Intelligent creatures. They cleverly store the food and mislead the opponents to  focus on the bogus burial site while allowing them to bury the real stash elsewhere safely. When a squirrel feels scared, it will at first remain silent and motionless. Either it will run to climb a tree or plant for safety and will circle or press against the trunk tightly with its body. To avoid the potential danger, squirrels also run in zigzag paths to deceive the enemies from chasing them.

Vegetarians by nature, squirrels feed on various nuts, flowers, fruits and roots and tubers. Occasionally, they eat small insects or chicks also  They eat as and when hungry due to the swift and restless movements. They visit our house frequently throughout the day for filling the tummy as if we run a restaurant for them. The way they relish the fried potatoes, boiled rice, muskmelon, pomegranate, and watermelon astonishes. Their curved front teeth never stop growing and remain sharp, though they gnaw non-stop.

Activeness. Squirrels run, roll and do the acrobatics of crossing over the electric cables, leaping from one tree to another or building with ease. In my home, one baby squirrel was so mischievous that it played in twisting, bending and breaking the twigs of a potted plant. As per a newspaper report, a squirrel was booked for eve-teasing when a girl complained about the animal pursuing wherever she went.

Harmless. Squirrels are timid and do not pose any problem to man or any other animal or birds. The moment a stranger approaches, they get panic and run away from the spot. Only after ensuring the safety through smell and sight, these animals do repeat their visits to the same place or person.

Plan well. Squirrels prefer to be independent and plan ahead by storing the food at various locations to survive the challenging winter months and in times of scarcity. They also grow bulky to stay warm during the cold winter. They build the nest with the twigs and soft materials such as cotton, grass, feathers, and moss for comfort and protection from the rough weather.

Social behaviour. If any danger is perceived, squirrels communicate with each other through various vocalisations and actions. They scream continuously at a high pitch or twitch the tails to alert other squirrels against the lurking predators. The one who initiates the warning will leave the place last and thus takes the risk of life. As the animals do not devour all the nuts or seeds buried by them, they accidentally add to the green cover through the trees, forests, and vegetation. They help in pollination as well when they move around the flowers of various species of plants.

So, squirrels are exemplary in all aspects compared to other animals. They remind us about the importance of activeness in life, and wisdom for practical and natural living. In fact, UNESCO can declare the squirrel as the mascot of ENTERPRISE.

(Author is a Ex-Banker and can be contacted on tmohan0311@hotmail.com)

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