Monday, June 08, 2009


Back in the 1940’s, the late, great Tex Avery directed five animated cartoons for MGM that featured Screwy Squirrel, a character whose antics were bizarre and over-the-top enough to make Daffy Duck look Amish.

Despite his lack of Redeeming Personality Traits - many people consider him to be merely annoying - I like Screwy Squirrel. You wouldn’t want him living in your neighborhood, but it’s fun to watch him wreak havoc on his victims... as long as you are not one of them.

But Screwy is a cartoon character. Real squirrels (or “skwerls,” as Gradual Dazzle likes to call ’em) do not talk or hit dogs over the head with various heavy objects. Their annoying traits are pretty much limited to invading the occasional attic, demolishing gardens, or devouring the contents of bird feeders.

Most squirrels in the eastern United States are a nondescript grey color, as befits a species known as the Eastern Grey Squirrel. However, during my recent travels to New Jersey and Alabama, I was reminded that not all squirrels are grey.

For example, there are black squirrels. These are simply a variety of the Eastern Grey; they may be found wherever grey squirrels live and in fact constitute a majority of the squirrel population in some places. In Princeton, black squirrels were a common sight back in my Student Days, and apparently they are still plentiful there.

Black Squirrel
Black squirrel, a common sight in Princeton.

OK, black squirrels may be unusual enough, but I’m still trying to figure out what the deal is with the strange-looking squirrels we saw in Prattville, Alabama, at the Capitol Hill golf complex. They looked and acted almost more like meerkats than squirrels, standing up on their hind legs and chittering in derision at any duffed shots. And the coloration was like unto a mashup of Red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, a splotch of black on the face and white on the snout. Bizarre, I tells ya...

Weird Alabama Squirrel
Alabama Golf Course squirrel. WTF kind of squirrel is this, anyway?

...clearly the result of a diet of Wayward Golf Balls, if you ask me.

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