Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Squirrel Sex

Female Sciurus Carolinensis
     It has come to my attention that humans, including scientists (who should know better), are spreading the myth that it is difficult to tell male from female gray squirrels.  This is outrageous enough, without mentioning the fact that there doesn't seem to be much consensus as to what to name our genders.  The dispute seems to come down to "buck and doe" ("Oh, deer!") versus "boar and sow".  If I dared to call my sister, Pearl the Squirrel, a "sow" I would never be able to sleep with both eyes closed again. 

    For what it's worth, we prefer "studs and vixens", thank you very much.

Male Sciurus Carolinensis
     Male squirrels are fashion plates.  We groom ourselves much more than our sisters and no self-respecting male sciurus carolinensis would ever be seen in public without a tuxedo.  Note the smooth fur and the clean lines between the white and gray--the shirt and the jacket--on our chests.  Note how we keep our cylindrical shape, at least until we reach my age and have eaten too many peanuts.

    Stud squirrels are typically more independent, less sociable.  If you find a squirrel eating from your hand it is far more likely to be female.  During courting season we boys will challenge each other but will avoid physical conflict as much as possible.  We chase the females until they let us catch up to them.
Pearl Gray
     By contrast, even before pregnancy, adult female squirrels tend to be more pear-shaped.  As my sister says, "we don't remain tubular belles for long".  More telling, though, is the fur on their bellies:  far less defined or napped, more swirly and expansive.  If you see a squirrel from the side and a lot of white peeks out on the underside it is almost certainly female.

    Vixen squirrels are slightly smaller but tend to have more "personality".  They are more adventurous than their relatively skittish male relatives, although this difference narrows as we all enter our dottage.

    Hey, if you think discerning the gender of squirrels is a challenge, when was the last time you went downtown on a Saturday night?

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