When Smarty and I walked out the door yesterday morning, we heard squirrels squawking in the trees on the edge of the front yard. I looked up to see a big ball of swirling squirrel, whirling around near the top of an alder tree. It looked just like animal fights in the cartoons! I thought the squirrels would fall but they both suddenly jumped out of the mass of flailing squirrel parts and a chase was on.
When Smarty and I got home from our walk, the angry-sounding squawking was still going on. It went on and on until finally I stepped out onto the deck to see what was going on. And I saw alright! A pair of squirrels was mating while dangling from a branch of my birch tree. The female was only holding on with her front feet and the male wasn’t holding onto anything but her. I watched in amazement and then horror as one of her feet slipped and they were both dangling there by one paw. I thought they would plummet to the ground but they simultaneously leapt onto branches and continued the chase, around and around the trees in my backyard, where they were joined by four more squirrels. Smarty decided to join in too and ran around the base of the tree while barking at the squirrels.
I made a cup of coffee and settled down to watch. It appeared to be five males after one female with the lead male chasing the female, while also keeping the other males away. Finally, the other males backed off a little and the female positioned herself in the top of my ash tree and waited.
The male climbed toward her, then backed off, then climbed toward her again.
Just when I thought it was time to tell Smarty to cover his eyes, I started getting pictures like this:
The male squirrel kept looking at me! I think if I understood squirrel language, I would have heard a conversation that went something like:
“Come on already! What’s your problem?”
“I can’t do it with her watching!”
Then again, maybe not. I went in the house to give them some privacy and try to get something done but the squawking and squeaking and chasing and scuffling went on. For the next twelve hours! Apparently, squirrel mating is a complicated and exhausting business. After what I saw yesterday, I understand why some of them look so ragged in the summer!