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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Squirrel Seeks Sayles Dollars

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Winter is the time of year when a lot of animals hunker down for hibernation or migrate to follow food and warmer weather. However, there are some that stick around all year long, and can be seen around campus on cold winter days. One that we all see a lot of here at Carleton is the Gray Squirrel.

Squirrels are a pretty common sight around campus – so common that a Carleton Rabbits and Squirrels Facebook page exists, featuring, most prominently, pictures of gray squirrels. Most of these pictures have one thing in common: the squirrels are eating. They’re eating muffin wrappers and apple cores, bread and other leftover food from the compost. This prevalence of eating-squirrel-photos is due in part because squirrels are cute and easy to photograph when distracted by food, and largely because they are eating a LOT. Squirrels, of course, can’t put on big winter coats and ridiculous hats like the rest of us, so instead they put on layers of fat to keep them warm and energized in the cold winter months.

Food is a lot harder to come by in the winter, and the squirrels are less likely to try and put energy into finding it if they don’t think it will pay off. They will store food in caches in the fall and memorize their locations. Also, their trips to the Sayles compost bins are limited to a few hours of the day, rather than all hours.

The rest of the time is spent cuddled up in a warmly lined den. Sleeping for the vast majority of the day is a great way to conserve energy (take note, Carls). But you can still see them out and about. Just today, I saw one eating snow for water. Another thing I’ve noticed is that squirrels, like Carleton students, take the path of least resistance in the snow. We have our own well-worn paths where the sidewalks are not direct enough, and the squirrels have little trails of tracks leading in straight lines from tree to tree.

Enjoy observing some fat squirrels this winter.

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