The squirrelologist blog has been quiet for some time–however the work has continued gangbusters. We have collected tons of cool data over the last six months, and GIS-extraordinaire Cassandra Smith is hard as work on a new home range analysis (see her first map below). The Spring semester crew starts work on Wed. We have got a few new collars to put on, though trapping is always tough this time of year. The last week has been very cold in southern Maine–and the next few days seems to be a bit more temperate. Perfect for catching a few squirrels.
The collar for our dear 213, Spartacus, was found recently in the woods. This squirrel was first collared in Oct 2010, so he had about 20-21 months of tracking. He was certainly a crew favorite–and had quite a large range (I think ~14-16 acres or so). The collar was found alone and had no evidence of mortality. However, the tie that holds the collar around the neck was not entirely bitten through. So he either was eaten (my assumption), or had lost so much weight that he was able to slip out of it.
On Feb 28 I saw a few chipmonks out around campus. A day or two later we got 6 inches of snow and they are back to slumber. Female grey’s are probably pregnant by now. Spring is around the corner indeed.
Out trapping on Monday, Feb 20, 2012, ticks were out. The day low temp was 19F and high of 39F. Made me really wonder about tick and flea infestations in their nests…. itchy.
Southern Maine finally got notable snowfall on Jan 12–maybe 6 or so inches on campus. Unfortunately it was followed up by rain on the 13th, then really cold temps. This weather change created a pretty thick layer of ice on top of the snow. I watched a squirrel under my bird feeder do its best to deal with this ice-snow sandwich. It dug a whole down to the ground slightly wider than its body length, and particularly interesting, it ate much of the snow. Not sure if this was a hydration activity or hunger. I was surprised that it did not push the snow into a pile next to where it was digging.