Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Acorns and Rodents

There is something very charming about an Acorn- the fruit of an Oak tree- as it sits in its little embossed "cup". When I was looking for some to photograph in Valentines Park, I was disappointed to find most of them had been gnawed- by Grey Squirrels I guessed. Sure enough, I shortly saw the culprit sitting munching one on the branch of a lakeside Sycamore tree:

Acorns are rich in nutrients and popular with all Rodents as well as certain birds- Woodpeckers, Jays, Pigeons and even, apparently, some Ducks.

The name "Rodent" comes from the Latin word rodere, "to gnaw". This family of mammals all have two continually growing incisors in both their upper and lower jaws. The only way they can control the growth is to constantly gnaw.

Now, I was brought up with the delightful Red Squirrels in Aberdeenshire, with their wonderful red coats and bushy tails. When I first came across Grey Squirrels below the Malvern Hills I was very snooty about them, adhering to the idea that they were "rats with furry tails"- if you look at this next image of a Rat in a nearby Oak tree, you will understand what I mean!

I'm now ashamed to admit that I did not feel much sympathy for the one that had part of its tail removed by my Welsh Collie and which (the tail piece- not the squirrel!) sat as his trophy on our mantelpiece for some years...

No comments: