Black squirrels

MMP Mithril in Middle-Earth The Prancing Pony Black squirrels

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #835
    Barliman
    Participant

    When Mrs B and I went for a walk yesterday we suddenly found ourselves in Mirkwood. At least, I assume it was Mirkwood, because we kept catching sight of black squirrels. I kid you not – black squirrels. Never seen them before in my life, though there have been stories about isolated sightings in various places over the years.

    Apparently, here in Breeland they can be found in a narrow corridor of land running through Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, They’re some sort of mutant genetic strain of the usual grey squirrels that were idiotically introduced in the 19th century by moneyed nitwits that thought there should be more squirrels in London’s parks — the end product, of course, being that the diseases they introduced have virtually wiped out our native red squirrels.

    Grey-related black squirrels can also be found in the US, and since it’s apparently virtually impossible for the same mutant strain to evolve independently in two different continents it’s now thought that another rich blockhead must have introduced the black squirrels here too, apparently in the 1930s, since when they’ve spread very, very slowly. So I can’t help but wonder if Tolkien saw some back in the thirties and added them to his Hobbit story. I guess we’ll never know.

    Perhaps Morlas could tell us…

    #32703
    Barliman
    Participant

    When Mrs B and I went for a walk yesterday we suddenly found ourselves in Mirkwood. At least, I assume it was Mirkwood, because we kept catching sight of black squirrels. I kid you not – black squirrels. Never seen them before in my life, though there have been stories about isolated sightings in various places over the years.

    Apparently, here in Breeland they can be found in a narrow corridor of land running through Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, They’re some sort of mutant genetic strain of the usual grey squirrels that were idiotically introduced in the 19th century by moneyed nitwits that thought there should be more squirrels in London’s parks — the end product, of course, being that the diseases they introduced have virtually wiped out our native red squirrels.

    Grey-related black squirrels can also be found in the US, and since it’s apparently virtually impossible for the same mutant strain to evolve independently in two different continents it’s now thought that another rich blockhead must have introduced the black squirrels here too, apparently in the 1930s, since when they’ve spread very, very slowly. So I can’t help but wonder if Tolkien saw some back in the thirties and added them to his Hobbit story. I guess we’ll never know.

    Perhaps Morlas could tell us…

    #32704
    ddaines
    Participant

    Serve the bu**ers on the menu there must be some in here who will eat ’em!

    #32706
    Barliman
    Participant

    I think I might get into in trouble if I served roasted nitwit on the menu.

    Ah, sorry, you meant the squirrels, didn’t you. Well, Dwarves would eat them, I’m sure – squirrels and nitwits alike.

    #32708
    Milo
    Participant

    Squirrels are almost red here near Pyrenées. Don’t you think such color could be linked to sun exposure instead of genetics ?

    By the way, rost squirrel could be nice, when no rabbit’s left. :P

    #32709
    Barliman
    Participant

    No, Master Milo, your red squirrels are the same species as ours here in Bree, while the black ones are genetically distinct from both the reds and the American greys.

    The bad news for Europe, meanwhile, is that grey squirrels are now trying to push north into France and Switzerland from Italy, where they were introduced by a diplomat in the 1940s. Consequently scientists are desperately attempting to formuate a plan to stop them. Sounds like an impossible task, alas.

    #33037
    Ilendil
    Participant

    Black squirrels are one thing. A white deer is the real sign. But it’s only when you hear the distant music, see the flickering fires and recognize the movement of laughing dancers between the trees when you should grow vary. :)

    -ile

    #33039
    Barliman
    Participant

    If a white deer was unwise enough to appear anywhere round here those pesky Dwarves would undoubtedly shoot and eat it.

    #33658
    Barliman
    Participant

    As I’ve just mentioned in the Taproom, I’ve now seen one of these black squirrels in my own garden for the first time! The first of many sightings, I imagine. The greys are still around, so it’ll be intriguing to see how long it takes them to start interbreeding. Or maybe there’ll be a turf-war!

    I have to say, their black or dark brown colouring does make them more interesting than the greys. It’s like seeing a new animal.

    #33666
    Mornedhel
    Participant

    The squirrels I spot sometimes in the nut tress in front of my cottage are always red :-/ (Sciurus vulgaris)
    No Mordor squirrel :-)

    #33667
    Barliman
    Participant

    Wow, I envy you. There haven’t been red squirrels in my part of the country for decades. They’re only found in the west and north these days. All we have round here are the grey North American blighters – and now the black (or dark brown) hybrid variety.

    The greys are entetaining to watch, especially when they’re trying to get at the nuts in the bird-feeders, but they’re a plague and nuisance to live with. They eat through the roof timbers and electricity cables at every opportunity (but only once if they try to eat a live cable….). They ate right through the batons supporting the tiles in the garage roof once and that portion of the roof caved in! They’ve chewed through the gutters more than once, and they used to gnaw at the lead window flashing, presumably to wear down their teeth.

    One year they raised a brood of youngsters in the attic of the house. I had to try and catch them and “encourage” them to go somewhere else (actually illegal, because they’re deemed vermin here and its illegal to capture them and release them elsewhere, or even to handle them). Reds, on the other hand, are protected by law, but are found only in more remote rural areas.

    You live in a part of Europe that has, as yet, not been invaded by the advancing grey horde as it marches north from Italy….

    #33672
    Milo
    Participant

    Onlynred squirrels at home also.
    Time for sharing breakfast? Anyone with me?:P

    #33675
    Barliman
    Participant

    I’m serving roasted grey squirrel this morning. How many do you want?

    #33684
    Milo
    Participant

    4, One for each hand, and 2 for extras. ;)

    #33701
    Barliman
    Participant

    To be political for a moment, I notice in the newspapers today that the grey squirrel story has moved on:

    “Politicians from the European Union have introduced a new law obliging the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy to organise the killing of hundreds of thousands of grey squirrels, every year from 2016, using methods that include poisoning, bludgeoning to death or trapping and shooting. This horrid and inhumane ‘programme’ is to be sponsored from the money of taxpayers from all EU countries.”

    This is a typical bit of whimsical government manoeuvering to give their landowning pals lots of money (in the UK £100 per hectare of land!! – that’s a helluva lot of dosh) under the excuse that the grey squirrels are damaging woodland. This argument would be more convincing if red squirrels hadn’t been culled within living memory in response to exactly the same dubious claims that they were doing the same thing!

    It would obviously have been better if the same element of society (i.e. politicians and rich gits) had never introduced grey squirrels in the first place, but it’s overly late to to shut the gate after the horse has bolted, as an old Bree expression would say. The little grey buggers have been here a long, long tiime and now constitute an indigenous species.

    If any of you think the cull as potentially cruel as I do, then you can sign the petition opposing it:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/takeaction/723/774/674/?z00m=27223698&redirectID=1900205497

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
English EN French FR German DE Italian IT Spanish ES