|[Note Guidelines] הערת הצלם|
|I hope this photo is worthy for posting as my first animal capture. I came across this Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger ssp. rufiventer in the San Francisco Botanical Garden situated in the Golden Gate Park while walking along the Redwood Trail. (These little creatures move so fast, that it’s difficult to get a good shot). Shutter speed was slow because it was dark under the Redwood trees and I accidentally had my exposure compensation set for -1.0.|
Fox squirrels are very versatile in their habitat choices, but are usually found in forest patches of 400,000 square meters or less with an open under story, or in urban neighborhoods with trees. They thrive best among trees such as oak, hickory, walnut and pine that produce winter-storable foods like nuts. Their total body length measures 45 to 70 cm, tail length is 20 to 33 cm, and they range in weight from 500 to 1000 grams. There is no sexual dimorphism in size or appearance. Individuals tend to be smaller in the west. There are three distinct geographical phases in coloration: in most areas of North America the animals are brown-grey to brown-yellow, while in eastern regions such as the Appalachians there are more strikingly-patterned dark brown and black squirrels with white bands on the face and tail.
Fox Squirrels depend primarily on tree seeds for food, but they are generalist eaters and will also consume buds and fruits, cultivated grain, insects, birds' eggs, and small lizards. Cannibalism has been reported, but should be considered very rare. In their regular diet of nuts, fox squirrels are classic scatter-hoarders that bury caches of nuts in dispersed locations, some of which are inevitably left unretrieved to germinate.
Fox Squirrels are strictly diurnal, non-territorial, and spend more of their time on the ground than most other tree squirrels. They are still, however, agile climbers. They construct two types of homes called "dreys", depending on the season. Summer dreys are often little more than platforms of sticks high in the branches of trees, while winter dens are usually hollowed out of tree trunks by a succession of occupants over as many as 30 years. Cohabitation of these dens is not uncommon, particularly among breeding pairs.
There are two breeding seasons, one peaking in December and the other in June. The young are blind, without fur and helpless at birth. They become independent at about three months and maturity is reached after one year. Their maximum life expectancy is 12.6 years for females and 8.6 years for males. Humans, hawks, snakes and bobcats prey on the squirrels.
They are gregarious and apparently playful, often chasing each other up and down trees and across yards and clearings. They have a large vocabulary consisting most notably an assortment of clucking and chucking sounds, not unlike some "game" birds, and they warn the listening world of approaching threats. In the spring and fall, groups of fox squirrels clucking and chucking together can make a small racket. They are impressive jumpers, easily spanning fifteen feet in horizontal leaps and free-falling twenty feet or more to a soft landing on a limb or trunk.
Ref: San Francisco Botanical Garden library support, California Academy of Science, Wikipedia.
Photoshop Elements: Cropped out overhead background then sharpened and resized for posting.
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