Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Flooded out.

No post yesterday - because the rains knocked out my internet! And raining again tonight - so maybe not even get this one off! But apologies all the same.

The heavy rain, though, reminded me of a post I delayed through the excitement of Fred coming along - and I still have the pics. This year the rains in Zim - or at least our little slice of it, came late, and hard. I managed to get a photo of the mountain pouring down the hill and through the car-park - this normally happens about twice a season, but this year we have had the 'muddy river' effect no less than five times......

The deluge proved to be bad luck for another local resident - whose nest was flooded out. This is what we somewhat unimaginatively  call the 'tree squirrel' - as if there are other types, such as the 'underwater squirrel' or the 'bus squirrel'. Of course, just like our old friends the mopane worms, these squirrels tend to frequent mopane trees - and are therefore also called 'mopane squirrels'. They live in family groups, and are easy to identify by the rapid flick of the tail that they give when foraging or moving. Their diet is primarily vegetarian - seeds, grasses, flowers etc, but they will also eat insects.

They have not had the same population explosions as seen in the USA and England - probably because of the boomslangs and other snakes that also live on the property with us! Maybe we should export a few snakes as a solution to our poor Western cousins?

Like the European squirrel, the mopane squirrel does hide caches of food - which they bury in small holes, rather like a mini-farm. This hiding is always done in private, and the soil is patted down with their chins, but even so, theft of these caches by other squirrels is commonplace. An African trait, I guess?

They nest in trees - and when we have heavy rain, such as we have been having, the nests can become flooded out. This little fellow was found perched all alone on a rock, and didn't even try to run away. Though he was not new-born (the babies are born altricial - blind, naked and helpless) he certainly wasn't very old.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, he only lived for a couple of days before he died. They are very difficult animals to rear in captivity, and sadly this was no exception.

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