Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The next generation

with 37 comments

A bunch of times in the summer of 2019 we’d seen rock squirrels (Otospermophilus variegatus) on our back deck, especially on one section of the railing. As the year went by and we advanced into the spring of 2020 we didn’t see them any more. Then one day in April I looked out a back window and saw a bunch of baby squirrels. How much is a bunch? The most I ever counted together was five. Here from April 29th are two of them, with the one on the right in what strikes me as a funny pose.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2020 at 4:38 AM

37 Responses

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  1. They’re wonderful! There are young gray and fox squirrels around my place now, but these seem to be even newer, because of their size. I didn’t realize until I just read it that rock squirrels are categorized as ground squirrels, while the fox and gray are Texas’s two tree squirrels. They’re such fun to watch. I know some people consider squirrels the dandelion of the animal kingdom, but their antics always are amusing.


    May 15, 2020 at 6:24 AM

    • Fox squirrels are much more common in Austin. I often see them scampering through the trees outside our house and engage in the antics you mentioned, and as recently as yesterday one stared me down from the Ashe juniper trunk a few feet beyond my computer room window. In contrast, rock squirrels really do prefer being on the ground. While they have no trouble getting up several feet onto a deck railing, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one climb into a tree. I’ve also never seen the two kinds of squirrels interact, even though both come into our yard.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 6:49 AM

  2. LOL! Perhaps, the one on the right is shy. 😀 The squirrels here in NV are different from the ones we had in Silicon Valley. No bushy tails and they don’t live in trees here. I think they’re ground squirrels.

    I’m going to be sharing images of one that has found my seed cake feeder for the birds soon.


    May 15, 2020 at 6:55 AM

  3. They look cute. I’ve never seen any around our place.


    May 15, 2020 at 7:13 AM

  4. These critters are cute until they burrow under a foundation/home.


    May 15, 2020 at 7:14 AM

    • Yes, some of that is going on here. I sprayed with a supposed repellent last fall, but if it worked it has obviously worn off by now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 7:24 AM

  5. Truly a cute bunch! But we don’t like them since they clean out our hazelnut trees before we have a chance to harvest.

    Peter Klopp

    May 15, 2020 at 8:28 AM

  6. So cute!


    May 15, 2020 at 9:25 AM

  7. That is a cute photo, Steve! We don’t see many squirrels in my immediate area.

    Lavinia Ross

    May 15, 2020 at 10:09 AM

    • That surprises me. I assumed you’d have plenty in Oregon, just like in New York where I grew up and now in Texas. But then you said that was in your immediate area, so I take it you see squirrels farther from home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 10:43 AM

  8. Squirrel yoga.

    Michael Scandling

    May 15, 2020 at 10:36 AM

  9. I’m sure they’re annoying, they are squirrels, after all. But they’re sure cute. I don’t see them here in my neighborhood, but you’re near woodlands, I’m in a more urban area.


    May 15, 2020 at 11:41 AM

    • It’s true that I’m just a couple of blocks (as the crow flies, over a cliff) from Great Hills Park, which is mostly wooded, and perhaps that’s where these ground squirrels or their antecedents came from.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 12:20 PM

  10. They are really cute.


    May 15, 2020 at 11:48 AM

  11. The most I have seen in a bunch is five babies. The “roll-up” position is how a baby rolls up when the mother carries it in her mouth. I suspect the mama is nearby and she’s in the process of moving them, either to or from the area they’re sitting. What a cool photo!


    May 15, 2020 at 2:27 PM

    • My photos are not great because I was on the run during the “move”. https://littlesundog.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/roll-up-kids-were-headed-to-the-woods/


      May 15, 2020 at 2:29 PM

    • Thanks for explaining the roll-up position. In this case the squirrel on the right rolled itself up spontaneously and didn’t get moved by its mother, at least not while I was watching. Maybe it was practicing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 4:19 PM

      • I see what you mean. Thanks for the link.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 15, 2020 at 4:19 PM

      • Maybe it’s like kids getting ready to get in a car – me first! And perhaps it helps the little one to feel more secure. Squirrels are very skittish and fearful as youngsters. We do a soft release here, and it’s often months before juveniles leave the protection of the squirrel complex and venture out into the woods for good.


        May 15, 2020 at 4:23 PM

        • It’s good to hear observations from someone with experience in these matters. The juveniles haven’t put in an appearance here in the past week, so perhaps they’ve moved on.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 15, 2020 at 4:27 PM

  12. We have grays and little reds (most folks in northern MN call them pine squirrels) and are especially fond of the reds. I’ve not heard of rock squirrels before. I can’t look at that wonderful one on the right without thinking of the hedgehog in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland curling up to serve as the ball in the Queen’s croquet game.


    May 15, 2020 at 6:45 PM

    • That’s an interesting association with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. I wouldn’t have thought of it but I remember what you mean. I wasn’t aware of rock squirrels till a few years ago. Having them in our yard from time to time makes them seem familiar now. I grew up with gray squirrels on Long Island. We used to hold out peanuts and some of the squirrels would take them right out of our hand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2020 at 9:55 PM

  13. They are adorable!!


    May 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM

  14. The little one is going to play skittles, rock squirrel style.


    May 17, 2020 at 1:14 PM

  15. I was going to say that the baby on the right was doing what my dog does when doing his ablutions but then read Lori’s description and that seems more likely. Couple of cuties.

    Steve Gingold

    May 18, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    • Too bad they haven’t been around in the three weeks since then. All I see in the back yard now are “regular” squirrels.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 18, 2020 at 2:32 PM

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