A picture bound to evoke exclamations of “Ag shame!” (a great South Africanism) and “Oh sweeeeet!”
This little Grey Squirrel was lucky enough to be rescued by golfers at the Westlake Golf Club where it was found lying under a tree.
Grey squirrels, indigenous to North America, were introduced onto the Groote Schuur Estate in Cape Town by Cecil John Rhodes .They are not considered a threat to local biodiversity as their range is restricted areas where there are pine and oak trees and a good source of water. They are not attracted to fynbos areas as fynbos berries do not suit their palates!
Brownish grey in summer and silvery grey in winter, the grey squirrel has a very bushy tail which it uses for balance, communication and as a duvet when it sleeps. Grey squirrels are solitary and diurnal, most active early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Their nests are about the size of a soccerball and are made up of twigs, bark, leaves and any soft materials such as paper and rags. They also nest in well-lined holes in trees.
Mainly vegetarian, their favourite foods are acorns and pine seeds, but they will also eat other nuts and seeds, fruit, shoots, buds and flowers, insects, birds eggs, nestlings and small vertebrates. Great hoarders, squirrels are great foresters, their hoarded seeds and acorns often not retrieved and left to germinate.
In the Western Cape the squirrels mainly give birth in spring and summer (August to February). The average litter size is three. Blind and naked at birth, baby squirrels only open their eyes when they are a month old. Their fur begins to appear at about two weeks and weaning starts at about seven weeks. They reach adult size at about nine months and live for six to seven years.
Thank you to Rod Sleep for his lovely photograph.