Friday, December 22, 2006

Squirrel Sex: Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

One of the large black cherry trees in our back yard is being stripped of its bark, to the point that I fear for its survival. There is a squirrel nest right next to the area being damaged, so the question isn't so much who is doing it, but rather, why? At first I thought the bark was probably being stripped off to line the nest, but the nest in question is old and appears abandoned... so why, indeed? Googling "squirrels stripping bark off of trees", brings me a wealth of accounts of squirrels doing this, and in fact killing the tree, or at least its crown. Apparently it's becoming quite a problem in some forests, and they blame global warming... in normal winters, up to half of the squirrels die off, but with warmer winters they all survive, leading to a squirrel population boom, and the hungry squirrels may strip off tree bark to get at the sugary cambrium. Well, in the case of our tree, it sits a stone's throw from the birdfeeder, where sunflower seeds rain down all day long; the fat, local squirrels just waddle over and open up their mouths to get fed, so starving squirrels having to eat bark would seem an unlikely explanation here. We then come to the theory that male squirrels chew off the bark to mark their territory, to get one up on other male squirrels, and in order to attract females; in otherwords, squirrel sex. Why is it that whenever something bad happens, it's always blamed on global warming and male sexuality? I must check and see if the authors of that last report were female.Posted by Picasa

LOL! Maybe because the warmer it gets, the less likely guys are to behave? ;)
Oh my. I can always count on certain ones in my blog-friends community to provide a good laugh on a gloomy day! LOL! Thanks for that!!
Kim & Kati... thanks for your feedback; I wouldn't know about things like tha, Kim.

For the first time in 19 years in this home, I've seen the same squirrel behavior. I agree with you that it isn't nutrition the squirrel is after, since the only tree he strips has been dead about 8 years (I trimmed off most branches and studded it with bird houses; much easier than digging out the roots!)
Mistress of Longears
lol We have the same thing being done to many of our trees and I must say that our squirrels are very well fed, so I guess I'll blame it on the males too. Thanks for the humorous read.
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