Brains vs. Brawn – A Squirrel Tale

Brains vs. Brawn – A Squirrel Tale

I’d like you to meet my little friend, a golden-mantled ground squirrel who lives in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in the Canadian Rockies. He came out from his den while I was photographing in the area to inquire about snacks.

Now the thing you have to understand about this area is that it is grizzly country, and one of the grizzly’s favorite snacks is the golden-mantled ground squirrel. While a grizzly shaking scared little squirrels out of trees might make a dramatic wildlife video, that’s not how it works.

A family of grizzlies hunt for breakfast by digging up squirrel dens, in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

A family of grizzlies hunts for breakfast by digging up squirrel dens, in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

What happens is that the squirrels build their nests in underground burrows, often in the middle of open fields, and all a hungry grizzly has to do is locate one of these dens and start digging. The claws on a grizzly are built for this sort of work, and when they’re finished, all you have is a hole big enough to drop in a grocery cart. On the left are some local bears digging up breakfast one morning.

Well, while other squirrels were being dug up from their dens in open fields and consumed by hungry grizzly bears, this little fellow had built his den under a sturdy hikers’ bridge. Note the planks of the bridge in the background over his den’s entrance.

A Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel comes out from his protected den to beg for snacks, in Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

A Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel comes out from his protected den to beg for snacks, in Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

So not only was the squirrel and his family safe from the bears, but he was perfectly positioned to hear hikers coming down the trail. And hikers have trail mix, which is one of the squirrels’ favorite foods.

Anyway, I have the utmost respect for this little guy – he had it all figured out!

P.S. No, I didn’t feed him. Mountaineers don’t do that. I didn’t name him, either. That would be presumptuous.

P.P.S. To learn more about the golden-mantled ground squirrel, go here. I like this article because it corroborates my story.

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  1. Bearly Got the Shot | Ed Leckert Images - [...] by wildlife they meant critters like the cute little golden-mantled ground squirrel I wrote about a while back, but…
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