Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Red Squirrel/Almindeligt Egern

Sciurus vulgaris fuscoater (in DK)

Squirrel eating fungus............

The Latin name for squirrel is sciurus and means - 'he who sits in the shadow of his tail'. The Danish name egern is an ancient word with roots in Indo-European and Sanskrit language. In Old Norse its name is ikorni. It has been living in Denmark for a very long time, archaeologists have found squirrel-bones which are 8-9000 years old. Today the squirrel is totally protected in Denmark.

In Norse Mythology Ratatosk (Sharp Tooth) is a little squirrel that runs up and down with messages in the world tree Yggdrasil and spreads gossip between Vedrfolnir at the top of the world tree and Nidhoggr beneath its roots. Vedrfolnir (the one bleached by the weather) is the hawk sitting between an eagle's eyes, and Nidhoggr is the snake (dragon) eating of the world tree's roots. Ratatosk is the messenger between worlds -and he can move from ice to fire and everywhere in between. He speaks with everyone, both the As-Gods and the Norns. Today Ratatosk is in many modern appearances, in books, novels, poems and games.

The red squirrel is protected in most of Europe, as it is listed in Appendix III of theBern Convention; it is listed as Least Concern on theIUCN Red LIst.

The red squirrel used to be widely hunted for its pelt. In Finland squirrel pelts were used as currency in ancient times, before the introduction of coinage.The expression "squirrel pelt" is still widely understood there to be a reference to money.

The squirrel is a charming little fellow, with strong energy and eternal curiosity. Its menu is manyfold, cones, nuts, buds, beech nuts, acorns, fungi, fruits, berries, larva, insects. It's also a little egg-thief, stealing eggs from little birds and from wood pidgeons and pheasants.

The red squirrel is easy to recognize and is common in Denmark - especially in forest areas. It lives alone and defends its territory against other squirrels. It is active in the day hours and sleeps and rests at night in a nest. The squirrel usually builds several nests inside its territory. The nests are made by branches and twigs, inside lined with grass, moss and leaves. They are ball-shaped with a diameter of 25-40 cm and the squirrel can close the hole when it stays in the nest. The nests are often placed in a tall fir and not easy to catch sight of. The nest might also be built in a hollow tree or in a large nesting box. The female gives birth each year to two litters each with 3-6 cubs.

Danish squirrels (except at Bornholm) belong to the sub-species Sciurus vulgaris fuscoater.

photo 2008 Forstbotanish have, Århus: grethe bachmann

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