Gateway to the Classics: Wild Life in Woods and Fields by Arabella B. Buckley
Wild Life in Woods and Fields by  Arabella B. Buckley

A Family of Squirrels

W E have a pet called Bobby, and we love him very much. He is a little squirrel, living among the beech trees of the wood.

We see him every morning leaping from branch to branch, with his long furry tail stretched out behind. Sometimes he leaps right down on to the ground and runs about picking up beech nuts.

Sometimes he sits bolt upright on a branch, with a nut or acorn in his paws. Then his tail is bent up against his back.

We have known him for two years, and when we whistle to him he comes to us. But if anything frightens him he darts away to the nearest tree. He climbs up in a moment with his sharp claws, and peeps back through the green leaves. We see his bright black eyes looking down at us.

His back is covered with a brown red fur, but under his body the fur is white. His lovely red tail is like a brush on his back. His hind legs are long. That is why he can jump so well. On his front paws one toe stands out from the others, almost like our thumb. He uses his paws like hands, when he sits up with a nut in them, and peels off the brown skin with his teeth.

Sometimes he steals birds' eggs. Then he holds the egg in his paws, cracks the top, and sucks out the yolk.

He has such funny ears! They have long tufts of hair behind them. He sometimes comes out of his hole in winter to eat, and we see that the tufts are much longer then than in summer.

But for most of the winter we never see him. He is fast asleep in a hole in a tree. We know where his hole is, for Peter found it once. He had seen Bobby come down one mild day to feed on his store of acorns, buried at the foot of the tree, and he watched him as he went back. Then he climbed up the tree, and in a hole in the trunk he saw Bobby's bushy tail curled round. So he knew that Bobby was snug and cosy in the hole.

Bobby has a little wife, and they always keep near each other. But she is very shy, and will not come to us. In the spring, when there are no nuts, they eat the buds of the trees.

About May they are very busy. They gather leaves, and moss, and twigs. These they weave into a nest in the fork of the tree, far from the ground. Then in June their little ones are born. Paul climbed up and saw four such lovely little squirrels, covered with soft red and white fur. They stayed in the nest for some time, though we often saw them moving about among the branches. The old squirrels took such care of them, and they stayed together all the summer. In the autumn they hid little heaps of nuts and acorns at the foot of the tree, to eat when they should awake in the mild days in winter.

Then we did not see them again. We do not know whether they all crept into one hole, or whether they each found a hole, and curled themselves up to sleep.


A pair of squirrels.

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