The "quad" section of the Occidental Campus
||I visited Occidental College here in LA on Saturday, Sept 27, 1997.
I'd never been there before. It is a small liberal arts college, founded
in 1887. However, the present campus is not that old, since the college
was originally located in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles. It
has a good-sized squirrel population due to the number of mature oak
trees around. This one at left could easily be older than this campus,
which was established around 1910.
I was there early in the morning, having gotten off work around 4 a.m.,
and brought some peanuts (roasted, non-salted) with me. No filberts in
the store, unfortunately.
||The squirrels had no interest in getting food from me or approaching
me at all. This was because the oak trees are all producing acorns now,
and mother nature is giving them her yearly big food handout! The
squirrels seldom even came down to the ground, preferring to eat the
acorns still attached to the tree. This critter at left, who is perhaps
15 feet off the ground, is looking at me like I'm crazy, sneaking up
with my camera and a bag of peanuts.
||You could hear lots of them above, rummaging through the leaves and
branches to pick the acorns and eat them. You could see little bits of
leaves and partially eaten acorns raining down, and you could in the
background hear the squirrels nibbling. The campus was very quiet, since
it was about 7 am. The only real noise was from some athletic practice
at the other end of campus.
The squirrels would normally just eat one section of the acorn and then drop it.
This might look wasteful, but there is a reason. Many oak trees have acorns that
have tannic acid, which tastes bad, more concentrated in one end of the acorn
than the other. The squirrels eat the end without the bad taste. The acorn will
germinate from the bitter end that the critters won't eat, and will grow if half
eaten. It would be counterproductive for the tree to make the acorns completely
indedible, since they wouldn't get scattered as much. Also, it would be
chemically "expensive." So, it is a strategy of the oak trees to make the acorns
taste better at one end than the other!
Partially-eaten acorns littering the ground
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YOU DO IF YOU HAVE A WILDLIFE PROBLEM?
Should I trap and relocate the animal? Trapping is not an effective
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CONTACT A RYAN’S WILDLIFE CONTROL SERVICES
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The wildlife removal industry is licensed in New York State therefore
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