Three young Red Squirrels visit the bird feeders throughout the day, feasting on a mix of cracked corn and sunflower seeds. Two are typical of the species, having prominent bushy tails, big feet and great agility.
However, the third sibling is unlike any Red Squirrel that I have ever seen and has become the center of attention, with rock star status in the arena of backyard wildlife activity. Meet Stubby, a Red Squirrel without a tail … or left hind foot.
I surmise that this young Red Squirrel was attacked from the rear by a predator, quite possibly a free ranging domestic cat. It managed to escape, the bushy tail providing a life-saving buffer and a mouthful of hair for the predator.
When discovered several weeks ago, Stubby appeared to be free of infection or discomfort. At first falling, stumbling and listing sideways when moving and feeding, the squirrel’s balance and motor skills improved rapidly. Soon it was posturing for feeding rights and could run, albeit awkwardly, to the nearest spruce tree for cover.
Like other Red Squirrels, Stubby is again feisty and domineering, his disabilities offset by a heavy dose of attitude.
Perhaps as a show of grit, strength and invincibility to intimidate his siblings, Stubby ran several feet with a large apple before stopping to munch on it (fast enough to blur my photo). Under the circumstances, this was a Herculean feat. Even when running for cover in the absence of a load, Stubby tumbles along like a furry ball rolling erratically across the the lawn.
The adaptability and recuperative powers of wild animals are miraculous. This case study is still unfolding: there is much more to be learned about Stubby the Red Squirrel!
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.