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RED SQUIRREL MIDDENS
In the fall, red squirrels prepare for the coming months of winter by caching supplies of cones and nuts. Sometimes they are piled high at the base of a tree, but often they are buried underground. Frequently red squirrels will choose wet areas in which to bury their cones, as here the cones will remain closed (retaining the seeds which the squirrels will later eat) and stay relatively fresh. When snow accumulates, red squirrels construct a labyrinth of tunnels under the snow, where they are both hidden and protected from the bitter cold. From these tunnels they have easy access to the food they buried in the fall. This photograph is of a red squirrel midden of buried eastern hemlock cones that were dug up and eaten right at the mouth of the hole in which they were placed last fall. All that remains are the cones scales upon which the seeds rested.