the travels & travails of an escaped lab rat

Animals: Beaver

Another admirable member of the order of rodentia is castor (I’ve only been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of castor canadensis; its cousin, castor fiber, has eluded me to date).

Personally, I find beavers admirable because they number among the few species on earth whose influence on the planet can be seen from space (the largest example being an 850 metre dam along the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta). They are also the second largest rodents in the world (the largest being the South American capybara).

In the past, I’ve never thought of beavers as particularly urban creatures (they needing a lot of trees for the bark they eat to survive), but recently I’ve sighted a few in some very odd places. I found one family living around the mouth of the Humber River, which runs through Toronto — not the first place that’d come to mind when you think of beavers.

I’m glad to have spotted them, but also sad to think how much we humans have encroached on wildlife habitat.

Tasty…but could use a little more salt.

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Animals: Squirrel

Of the order of mammals rodentia, certainly one of my favorite families is sciuridae.

Sciuridae is a rather large family whose branches include giant squirrels, pygmy squirrels, tree squirrels, ornate squirrels, and terrestrial squirrels. It’s the terrestrial squirrels that generally we are most familiar with: ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, prairie dogs, etc.

They can be found all over the world.

Unlike many other rodents, they can’t digest cellulose, so their diet consists of foods high in protein, carbohydrates, and fat — nuts, fruits, and insects for the most part.

I find them rather cute (if a bit skittish).

If I had to name my absolute favourite squirrel, there’d be no question that it would be Ratatoskr (the squirrel from old Norse legend who runs up and down the world-tree, Yggdrasil, carrying messages between the eagle up top to the wyrm that dwells in the roots beneath).

Is that a peanut in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

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