mikku

Squirrels, come home!

Squirrels playing in my garden area has been such an obvious thing to me that nothing seemed unique in the phenomenon until one fine day this little creature shrinking its nose caught my attention because of its unusually short tail! The tail was just an inch long bushy thing, making the tiny squirrel clearly visible in the group. I immediately gave it the name ‘Mikku’, owing to its cuteness.
It was after realising Mikku’s presence that I discovered the small and numerous holes in the neem tree which were homes to these rodents, just beside my house. The tree around 25 years old gives shelter to the squirrels’ families and one of its big branches lands in my porch area making their entry in the house easy. I have been feeding birds in the same area of my house for a long time and now I am well acquainted with their feeding habits and taste. I put different meals for the avian and the squirrels come on the branch to peep over the menu, ariel view gives them a good picture of every corner of my porch. Mikku’s small family consists of its mother and 3 siblings including Mikku and resides in its sweet home on that particular branch.
Over the months I observed the behaviour of this rodent family closely- the mother would give instructions and the little ones are bound to obey. Their ears straight and erect show how alert they are all the time due to the danger of hawks and cats. Birds are their buddies, they even ring danger alarms for squirrels making a peculiar tik..tik..sound! They are free to wander in my verandah and gorge on just anything they like to have. Some of them run for biscuits and others for peanuts while some like to munch on chapatis also. Its an awesome feeling watching them eat and jump around, most of all the sight of them not leaving the plates if homemade food is served. In a period of 6 months since I saw Mikku, they all have become accustomed to my presence as well, standing one to one with them becomes a rare sight for viewers.
In this half year Mikku has grown a little, with its tail extending to not more than 3 inches still and being the naughtiest of its siblings it is very close to my heart. The rapport has unfolded their private moments to me as one morning it so happened that all of them following their mom were marching down to my porch when suddenly the mother realised that its little ones were untidy to be a visitor at any body’s place! The family head immediately started their cleaning one by one, with her tongue she cleaned their little faces,then neck and the torso also using her hands in between. Simultaneously her instructions were going on as I could hear her squealing and the babies listening to her attentively. The first 2 stood firm, just looking around while their mother did her business. As Mikku’s turn came I could sense mumma’s pitch rising and her use of hands increasing, mischievous Mikku wanted to run and play and she had to hold him tightly asking to behave himself. Mikku was jumping from time to time to release himself from mumma’s hold.mikku2
I also recall an evening when I heard tik..tik from Mikku’s mom and looked around to search for the danger that she had sensed but couldn’t find any. It had become dark and Mikku along with siblings was busy playing around and then I understood that mom was warning kids that was time to go home now! Still the children didn’t seem to care and the mom came to the branch tip raising her tail and voice tik..tik..tik, scolding them, “enough of playing for today come back immediately!” And the offsprings, wherever they were dropped every plan and in a queue quietly bending their tails down trailed off to home! Mumma squirrel was still blabbering when the 3 of them entered inside the house. While she followed them frowning I just hoped that mumma doesn’t give them a thrashing that day and let them come and play in my house every day!

Prabha Dayal

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