Monday, December 22, 2014

Squirrel vocables

Squirrels of this region (the Eastern Grey) make characteristic, rather irascible-seeming sounds.  Just now I had the opportunity to observe one in especially stark form, perching on a branch of a leaf-denuded oak, on a cold but cloudless and breeze-free day.  There was no other squirrel -- nor any other animal -- in sight, so he was apparently not responding to any evident threat, nor was there any answering call.

The vocalization consists of

(1) a series of from around 8 up to 11 short grunts, during which the whole body convulses somewhat, most visibly the curled tail;
followed by
(2) a series of two to three squeaks, during which the body is tranquil.
(Repeat ad lib.)

Why do they do that?  Someone must know…

[Update 8 Nov 2015]  I happened to re-read this, and was took aback:  Good Lord, that reads like a description of coitus.

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