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Tuesday 29 December 2015

Eastern Gray Squirrels of Minnesota

Some cute little joys of travelling.

In Minnesota, I made some cute little friends, the eastern gray squirrels. They're my little friends who visit my patio every morning.

Eastern Gray Squirrel in Minnesota
My little buddy, the eastern grey squirrel. I wonder how many of us, whether at home or travelling, observe and have some little joys like these.

Before we go further, here's a little video of one of those cute little fellers. In fact, this is the first video we are ever uploading! The little squirrel just comes to me, takes the cracker from my hand, and goes away to eat it somewhere he likes.

Video : Part 1 - Eastern Gray Squirrel in Minnesota takes a cracker from my hand.

They're pretty quick, which is why I slowed down above video by a little bit for clarity. Below are some more pictures and videos of these totally cute eastern gray squirrels.

While travelling, most of us, including ourselves, go for the big picture; that is the mountains and hills, rivers and beaches, lakes, monuments, and wildlife like the big cats, elephants and even the cultural and heritage destinations.

But how many of us also look at the little things -- the little creatures at a place that give us little joys, may it be an early morning, a late evening by our accommodation, or during our outings?

Video : Part 2 - Eastern Gray Squirrel brings a friend.

Of course there are several bird enthusiasts and animal photographers, but what about the regular ones like us who travel for the sake of travelling or just to have a good time or to visit that must-visit place? How much do we observe the nature and our surroundings? How many of us stop to look at the little beauties around us?

Eastern Gray Squirrel in Minnesota, during winter
My little friend looks happy!

It could be a dog, a cat, some birds (including crows), or some squirrels. I always observe the environment and the animals and birds around me wherever I go, apart from the main motive of travelling somewhere.

Okay, now without further ado, here's my little tale about the litte friends I made in America.

On Christmas night, a snow storm marked itself as the first widespread snowfall event in Minnesota, in the United States of America (USA). It's 19F (-7 °C) outside, at the time I write this. Some of my little friends, who visit my patio every morning, looked famished. I treated them with some crackers (which they love) and also got a chance to take few snaps while they were enjoying their snack.

In case you didn't know, in America, "crackers" usually means salty or savoury biscuits which are typically flat-shaped. Biscuits which have a taste sweet taste rather than salty, are called "cookies" in the USA.

Eastern Gray Squirrel in Minnesota, having a cracker
Snack time for my little buddy.

Coming back to my little squirrel buddies, these are the eastern gray squirrels which can grow 17 to 20 inches long and typically build a nest or live in the cavities of trees.

During winter, with the trees loosing their leaves and due to scarcity of food, these squirrels are more visible. It appears that they build out a reserve of food mostly on the ground and during winter, it gets a little tricky to find where they had hidden their food. It is also said that these squirrels keep themselves warm by shivering through which they generate heat.

When I put out some crackers, I have seen at least four to six squirrels running towards them, to claim those. The one that gets first to the food becomes its sole owner. It's up to his discretion whether to share the meal or not.

Eastern Gray Squirrel in Minnesota, munching on food
These fellers be like me gotta get all the food me can for winter!

I have seen some squirrels that don't look as fluffy and strong as the others, which stand right next to the food and bark at the stronger ones.

Below is a video with both clips put together.

Video : Eastern Gray Squirrels : Part 1 and 2 together.

It’s nice watching these furry little creatures. These eastern grey squirrels of America are different from our typical lined squirrels back home in India, which are called as the Indian palm squirrels.

For example, here's a picture I took of one of our Indian squirrels during a trip to world heritage site Hampi in Karnataka. I spotted this little fellow at the Laksmi Narasimha shrine of Hampi which features the iconic monolith of Lakshi Narasimha.

The Indian palm squirrel has three white stripes on a darker patch of fur from its back to its tail. Another type of palm squirrel in India has five stripes instead of three, which is called as northern palm squirrel.

Wherever I have travelled, I never miss out on the animals and little creatures, and although I have sometimes taken their pictures, I have never written or published them until now. For me, they are a part of my journeys and travels.

I believe many others too would experience such little joys during tours or travels, adding to the overall wonderful experiences that comes with travel. Are you one of them?

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