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Which way will a squirrel go? Across the pavement or into the brush?
I’ve had a personal theory that is not backed up by science. I have long thought young squirrels have to pass a test of bravery before they are designated as adults by their colonies. Either they race across the Withlacoochee State Trail in front of my bicycle wheels, or they stop at the edge of the pavement, twitching their tails a few times – playing with my mind all the while. Which way will a squirrel go? Across the pavement or into the brush?
Squirrel vision is good, so they know I’m coming. They can hear about as well as we can, and they have a reasonable level of intelligence. So what’s the deal? I found the answer at a website called Living Alongside Wildlife (http://www.livingalongsidewildlife.com/2011/04/why-are-squirrels-so-stupid.html ). Over eons of time, squirrels have learned to bob and weave to avoid predators, especially birds of prey. They are ill-equipped for the straight-ahead movement of human transportation.
Squirrels insert themselves into our lives in other ways. When my bicycle group stops for breakfast on our southbound rides, we usually sit outside if the temperature is reasonable. One of the places at which we stop is a restaurant situated directly on the Withlacoochee River. It has a small patio out back, with a squirrel-wide railing around it. Invariably one squirrel shows up, eyes gleaming as she or he stares intently down at our food.
There is a sign warning diners not to feed the animals; however, squirrels are viewed as irresistibly cute by some of us, one bicyclist in particular. An endearing squirrel showed up for breakfast one time and he prepared to share the remains of his toast. He leaned forward with his hand outstretched, but his wife told him, “No!” He leaned back, disappointed. As the couple left, he gallantly allowed his wife to precede him, lingered back with his crumbs -- but as most husbands know, wives have eyes in the back of their heads -- so he was thwarted a second time. I’m sure the squirrel scored food with later diners . . . .