Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's the little things that you miss

I've been in Australia for two years now and everything is going swimmingly. However, much to my surprise, I have found that I miss squirrels. There are no squirrels in Australia except for an alleged small feral population that escaped from Perth Zoo, so that doesn't really count does it? Yes, as Dame Edna will tell you there are cute little possums everywhere, but they are nocturnal creatures that you seldom see in daylight and in twilight their silhouette is the same as a Norwegian rat which is not pleasant.
...
As Catullus said of his main squeeze: odi et amo, which is pretty much how I feel about squirrels. I've been crapped on by a squirrel before and twice the same squirrel (I suspect) broke in through an open window in my rooms at university and scattered cereal all over the place. Yet now that they're not around I miss the little perishers, especially the adorable wee red ones that you'd see in woods in the north of England. Melbourne zoo does not have a squirrel exhibit although I think it would prove very popular, so I suppose I'll just have to get my squirrel fix here.

49 comments:

Glenna said...

Really cute video, and those squirrels are cute little critters. The ones I've seen aren't quite so smart though, they can't even figure out not to run under a car's wheels when it's driving down the street. I swear, driver's ed. should include a section on not running over squirrels.

Michael Stone said...

I live right next to a park so there are plenty of greys hereabouts. I even found one buried in my garden once -- courtesy of Mr Fox presumably. Reds are much cuter, but I've only seen them in the wild on a handful of occasions, such as when they visited a feeder I filled for them at a holiday cottage in Scotland. Unfortunately the local pine martens also liked red squirrels so the squirrels tended to be very shy.

Naomi Johnson said...

All gray squirrels in my neighborhood, some have partial albinoism. Have you seen Prevost's squirrel from Indonesia? Cute lil devil. There's one in my local zoo.

Peter Rozovsky said...

You've got koalas and, just across the water, kiwis, and you're complaining about lack of cute animals?

seana said...

There seem to be a lot more squirrels in this part of town than any other section I've lived in, or at least they're more noticable. And I really don't think I've seen black squirrels before, but there are quite a few up in this neighborhood.

The ones in my yard are brown, but they seem to have a lot of fun together.

adrian said...

Glenna

I knew a squirrel that used to jump on and off the roof of moving cars which was positively suicidal.

adrian said...

Michael

I'd love to see a Pine Martin, they are such mysterious animals. I saw a stoat in the wild once and was quite impressed by it.

adrian said...

Naomi

That is cute.

I have seen white squirrels before in a park in Washington DC. They were like ghost squirrels. I was fascinated by them.

adrian said...

Peter

You dont really see koalas in the city which surprised me because Dara O'Briain had informed me that Australians use them as bike locks.

adrian said...

Seana

Yes I've seen the black ones too, or at least the ones I saw were a very very dark grey that was almost black. I liked em.

seana said...

They might be a phase of the gray ones, as all the ones I've seen have tended to be pretty small. I think they might all pretty much live on King Street, which is kind of odd. Although there have been some sightings up on campus.

I think I've mentioned here before that I went to a health food store once and the woman was telling me that some squirrel had been coming in the store and driving her crazy, and just as she said it the squirrel ran in the store, climbed up my leg and then ran off again. I think I was wearing beige pants so it might have thought I was a tree trunk.

It was disconcerting.

dpougher said...

I read somewhere that, in an example of evolution in action, some red squirrels in Scotland have grown much bigger in response to the threat from the monstrous and far duller introduced grey squirrels. And as for koalas being cute, well maybe, but don't ever try to pick one up unless you're fond of ticks, fleas and lice.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Worst thing I heard about koalas is that they piss on humans.

seana said...

This thread is rapidly turning from a pro-squirrel thread to an anti-koala thread. But I am not persuaded. When I was a kid, one of my relatives went to Australia and brought my sister and I back some stuffed Koala toys. They were very lifelike (I presume)and quite adorable. Of course, they didn't really have any of the detractions mentioned above either.

Peter Rozovsky said...
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Peter Rozovsky said...
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Peter Rozovsky said...

I’m solidly in the pro-koala camp. They’re cute, right up there with quokkas.
==========================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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seana said...

Quokkas are cute, but they are no koalas.

On the other hand you probably don't want to piss them off.

Peter Rozovsky said...

But has a koala ever been the title character
in a crime novel
?

seana said...

No but he has been portrayed as the victim of a crime!

Sort of.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Sounds like the little bugger may have deserved it.

dpougher said...

Koalas, on account of their piss-poor diet of only eucalyptus leaves, are active for about only 15 minutes a day and are in a groggy state for most of that. Hence they are an easy target for infestations. And as for quokkas, Peter, which are found only on the tiny island of Rottnest off Perth, the little buggers BITE.

seana said...

I know we should defer to the Australian amongst, but, uh, I'm not going to. Lethargy is not a crime.

Though, personally, I'm not invested in the quokkas.

Mark English said...

I remember the squirrels that used to (?) run around the grounds of Perth zoo. Though I grew up in Australia I always had a fondness for European fauna and flora. My 'literary' education (from Enid Blyton on) created expectations of squirrels and oak trees and a sense of a gentler world that I was missing out on. But then I've always had a conservative tendency...

Adrian said...

David

I've only ever seen one koala in real life and that was down in Apollo Bay, whereas you see kangaroos and possums all over the shop, clearly they've gotten a very tight evolutionary niche.

Adrian said...

David

I've only ever seen one koala in real life and that was down in Apollo Bay, whereas you see kangaroos and possums all over the shop, clearly they've gotten a very tight evolutionary niche.

adrian said...

Seana

My God that video was adorable. I'm off it to show it to my kids.

adrian said...

Seana

My God that video was adorable. I'm off it to show it to my kids.

adrian said...

Peter

When I was in Perth I had a free day and thus an opportunity to go out to the oddly named island and see those creatures.

Did I go?

I did not. I went to the Little Creatures Brewery in Freemantle instead. We cant escape our natures.

adrian said...

Mark

Yes fiction at an early age can condition us for a life of disappointment. I remember reading Tin Tin in Tibet and regarding the gloomy Irish "mountains" with deep dissatisfaction ever after. Where were the snowy vistas, the glaciers? I wondered as I contemplated wet sheep, sodden peat bogs and more wet sheep.

red bike said...

a colleague once told me there used to be squirrels in WA, probably brought in by early settlers; but they died out for some reasons ... i love the ones in Canada, they're quite friendly, they even roam around in the most crowded parts of the city.

Anonymous said...

He looked like a regular squirrel...the kind of squirrel you might see anywhere, anytime in any city in America. But he wasn't what he seemed. He was actually a lowlife grifter on the lam - a lousy shapeshifter hiding out from the law. Inside his little hidey hole (similar to the one I keep on the Busted Flush) he kept a Walthers 38 Special, alongside a cache a pictures that would make a pimp gag. No he was no ordinary squirrel. But I was no ordinary may either. I was Travis McGee - the knight errant of the Florida Coast. The deep sea tan couldn't hide the fact of too many nights jollying the ladies and coddling the Boodles Gin. The sun rose over the sea like a bright yellow hammer.

Bright Wind from Mountain

Matt said...

What's that joke Letterman has in regular rotation? "It was so hot in Central Park today I saw a squirrel putting suntan lotion on his nuts."

PKL said...

Adrian:

The link to the Brown spoof doesn't work just now. Love to read that. But I have an idea for an entrepenurial venture for you and I, me China plate. You can't be the only man in Australia whose missing the fuzzy-tailed rat called the squirrel.

Must be thousands of householders in Oz who would love to have their own pet nutter running about the back yard on a little leash. Or the squirrel-lonely hearts could walk the loveable little guys around the neighborhood.


I'll ship 'em. You sell 'em. 50/50 split! If an Airdale goes for $1500, what do you think we could get for a grey or red ground squirrel? In Illinois, there's a jet black breed which would be a real status symbol in suburban Sydney.

You have 48 hours to option on to this idea, or I'm turning to another potential partner. I know an idea with potential when I see one.

PKL

adrian mckinty said...

Red Bike

They were probably eaten by the dreaded Bunyip.

adrian mckinty said...

Bright Wind

And we know that all the squirrels in Florida either get eaten by gators or turned into a delicious squirrel pie.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

Funny how all those intern jokes dried up isnt it?

adrian mckinty said...

Patrick

Its a brilliant but I would be killed or shipped to an Australian black site on the lovely sounding but actually not every nice Christmas Island.

Australian Quarantine are hard bastards who will confiscate anything not endemic to this island and then destroy it without mercy. You cant even bring in wood that isnt native so I'm afraid squirrels are out.

I have now fixed the link to The Lost Squirrel (how I fixed it and why it wasnt working before I have no idea).

Peter Rozovsky said...

Is Pauline Hanson Austalia's minister of squirrels?

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Ironically after a lifetime spent complaining about the "bloody immigrants" she, er, emigrated. It's just like an O Henry story or something.

Peter Rozovsky said...

But her legacy lives on every time a non-native squirrel is barred at the border.

Where did she move?

Adrian said...

Peter

England.

Peter Rozovsky said...

She didn't get barred for being a foreigner?

seana said...

Oddly enough, our floor manager came over today, carrying a battered old kid's book that someone had abandoned in the store. It was called Tico-Tico, which turned out to be the adventures of a squirrel. The black and white photos turned out to be taken by a famed animal photographer named Ylla, text by Niccolò Tucci. Basically, Tico Tico meets a lot of other animals on his misguided quest to, uh, "carry away the city on his strong shoulders." Probably lucky that he didn't try to carry it to Australia.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, a tico-tico is also a bird, which I first heard about in a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and also the name of a Mozambican soccer player.

Matt said...

Those were more innocent times.

Letterman has the interns parallel parking tonight.

seana said...

Peter, I have to admit that I did not do a close textual reading to discover why the name. Tucci apparently had a long and interesting life, though. Besides writing about hubris filled squirrels, he wrote for the New Yorker, interviewed Einstein and tons of other stuff. His daughter married New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb. His obit is here.

Ylla is interesting too. She apparently died after falling out of a jeep while photographing a bullock race in India. It's sad, but on the other hand, there's a lot to be said for dying in the traces, especially if you're doing your own work and not others.

Matt, although they may have been more innocent times, I think squirrels are pretty much the same.

Cameron Ashley said...

Good to see the squirrel love! I spent six months in Canada and used to watch them every day from the kitchen window. My girlfriend thought I was crazy. So much more pleasant than the bloody possums that terrorise Melbourne.

adrian said...

Cam

They definitely can terrorise you. Esp at dusk.