The Most Chill Eastern Gray Squirrel in Brooklyn Right Now
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that squirrels can bring humans both comfort and pain.
In terms of comfort, there was the quirky trend of squirrel tables that began last summer. People built (or bought) tiny wooden picnic tables and installed them like bird feeders. Offerings included nuts and fruits, all in the hopes to attract a furry, hungry visitor.
In terms of pain, there were reports of aggressive squirrel attacks in Queens, where residents participated in bloody wrestling matches in December of last year. Called “violent little freaks” by some, these often-ignored visitors demanded attention.
Of course, there were violent squirrels long before we had a global pandemic. Remember the attacks in Rockefeller Park a few years ago? And the potentially rabid squirrels terrorizing people in Brooklyn in 2017?
Luckily, it’s extremely rare for squirrels to carry rabies. However, their aggressive behavior is unwelcome, regardless of their potential for carrying disease. That’s why we need to keep an eye out for erratic squirrel behavior, lest we become too complacent around them.
And that’s why we also need to appreciate the squirrels who know how to chill out. For example, check out this squirrel spotted on a quiet Brooklyn street on Sunday, its tail gently flapping in the breeze.
Notice anything unusual about this particular squirrel? Depending on what device you’re on, you may or may not be able to see a patch of missing fur beneath the squirrel’s arm. According to Sciencing, the bald spot is likely caused by mange mites. Most squirrels will recover, and the fungal disease can’t be transmitted to humans.
Hopefully, this squirrel was enjoying the warm weather. Like other New Yorkers, I’ve had a few run-ins with more aggressive squirrels. One time, I was relaxing in Washington Square Park when a squirrel walked right up to me and started rifling through my bag!
The squirrels in New York City have a storied past, from taking over the landscape in the 1700s, to nearly going extinct when hunted in the 1800s, to rare sightings in Central Park, and eventually, to being reintroduced as more city parks were planned and built.
The eastern gray squirrels in New York City are highly adaptable, and even though many New Yorkers take their presence for granted, the “shadow tail” creatures are a vital part of the ecosystem here.
Despite their ubiquitous presence, very little is known about the biology of eastern gray squirrels. Three hundred volunteers scanned Central Park, in an attempt to count how many squirrels are living there. The squirrel census took place in October 2018 during “Squirrel Awareness Month.”
Care to guess how many squirrels were identified in Central Park? The team counted 2,373 squirrels, the majority of them hiding out in The Ramble.
How do you feel about the squirrels in New York City? Have you had any pleasant or unpleasant experiences with the indigenous creatures lately?