What do they eat?

Red Wolf 1287 shows her appreciation for squirrels.

The last week in December was a very busy week. Many visitors were in town and it seemed most of them were at the Museum. Even with all of the activity, on Saturday (12/31) the Red Wolves were resting, as they often do in the afternoon, at the top of the enclosure and up near the fence. It was an unusually warm afternoon and there was a crowd of viewers at the Wolf Overlook.

Late in the day, two Eastern Gray Squirrels thought it appropriate to have a territorial dispute, inside the Red Wolf Enclosure. The wolves weren’t doing much but sleeping so most of the viewers’ attention turned to the squirrels. Female 1287, however, was tuned in to the commotion as the squirrels chased each other around the leaf litter and onto and around the tree trunks. The wolf was down the slope and on the scene in what seemed like two bounds.

The squirrels, apparently oblivious to the wolf, chased one another around and up a tree trunk when one of them fell or jumped to the ground. The wolf leapt at the squirrel, missed and the squirrel was up the tree again with the wolf at its heals.

The squirrels, who were more concerned with settling their dispute than being dinner, continued to chase one another in the branches above. Again, one of the squirrels fell to the ground, but this time 1287 was too quick for the squirrel. She snatched it, shook it and put an end to the squirrels’ quarreling.

The wolf takes her prize up to her favorite spot at the top of the enclosure.

The wolf walked back and forth with the squirrel for several minutes before deciding to bury it.

Female 1287 prepares to bury the squirrel for later use.

As there were many visitors at the Museum (for some reason I often don’t carry my camera when it is very busy), and it was near closing time, I had already put away my camera when the wolf snagged the squirrel. Kicking myself, I quickly ran to get the camera and was fortunate to make it back in time to get at least a few shots of the wolf with its prey before the squirrel was buried.

By the way, Squirrel Appreciation Day is coming soon. Stay tuned.

3 responses to What do they eat?

  1. Wendy says:

    The gray squirrel is the state mammal for North Carolina. I think the red wolf should be, don’t you?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      So far as I know the only state to have E. Gray Squirrel as their state mammal is North Carolina. If we’re going to have a state mammal, I guess that’s as good as any, they seem to be everywhere and are likable enough, if likability matters.
      As far as the wolf, since we’re the only state to have Red Wolves running free except for the breeding pair at St. Vincent NWR off Florida, the symbolism of having it as a state mammal would probably work. Or maybe state canid would be a better designation for the wolf.

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