Red Squirrel Belly Flop
Congratulations to Mary Pratt, the first reader to correctly identify the impression a Red Squirrel left in the snow. Red Squirrels are fiercely territorial, and will chase each other furiously in order to defend their territory and their food caches. The photographer, Susan Bull Riley, witnessed this behavior as she watched two Red Squirrels racing after each other in the crown of a maple tree. Suddenly one of them fell to the ground, where sleet and wet snow cushioned its fall and recorded the belly flop landing. No time was lost in the resumption of the chase!
There were many “Flying Squirrel” responses, which makes great sense as they are approximately the same size as a Red Squirrel (just an inch or two shorter in length) and are gliding from tree to tree or from tree to the ground. My assumption is that a Flying Squirrel’s landing impression might show some of the patagium, or membrane, that stretches from a squirrel’s wrists to its ankles, due to the fact that it is extended as the squirrel glides. (Any firsthand Flying Squirrel landing-in-snow impression observations welcome.) Thanks to all who submitted an answer to this Mystery Photo. Many were very amusing!
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