Memory Trigger – The American Chickaree.

I thank Mike for inspiring this post with his beautiful post on the American Chickaree.

Reading that took me back to my childhood when I first heard the story about how the Indian squirrel got the three stripes on its back.

In our epic The Ramayana, when Rama uses the army of monkeys and bears to cast rocks into the sea to build a bridge from the Indian shore to Sri Lanka, a squirrel wanted to contribute as well, and starts picking up small pebbles and casts them into the sea. Seeing this,  Ram is overwhelmed and picks up the little creature and caresses it to express his gratitude. That caress on its back leaves a permanent mark on its back and since then lore is that all Indian squirrels have had the three stripes on their backs.  This story was repeated ad infinitum to drive home the moral that no effort is too small for a worthy cause.

I still remember the time that I told my mother that I most decidedly did not want three stripes on my back and got a hoot of laughter for a reward.

India is also home to the Malabar Giant Squirrel found mostly on our Western Ghats.

There is a sanctuary just about sixty five Kms from my home called the Bhimashankar which is also famous for its temple. I have had the privilege of visiting the temple and the sanctuary on a few occasions and have sighted the giant squirrels there. It is heartening that the once endangered species is making a strong and sustained comeback thanks to the conservation efforts here and elsewhere.

I bet that Mike would be zapped that his innocuous post would lead to this rather unusual, for me, post.


15 thoughts on “Memory Trigger – The American Chickaree.”

  1. At our house in Ft Worth we had 15-20 gray squirrels that had established residence in the huge oak trees. It was fun to sit and watch them. They used to make Ginger completely crazy taunting her,

    1. When Urmeela was alive and active she would scatter birdseed in our garden for sparrows and pigeons and very often some squirrels would join the party too. I always found them to be fascinating creatures.

  2. When we were at Cornell we used to love watching the squirrels taunt the dogs. A dog would be across the lawn watching a squirrel on the ground and would crouch, then make a mad dash to the squirrel, who seemed oblivious, fostering hope. Then at the last minute the squirrel would zip up the tree. It reminded us of Charlie Brown and the football. The dogs never learned.

    Here we have ground squirrels and when we had a garden one would sit on his woodpile watching us when we went into the garden and chatter at us if we stayed too long. He finally decided we weren’t worth worrying about and go into another part of the garden to eat when we were there.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Flower Beds

    1. I haven’t seen Chutki chasing squirrels yet as we do not feed the birds any more in the garden and the squirrels that also used to come to party no longer visit our garden. Once the garden gets redone, I intend resuming the feeding of birds and hope to see them coming back.

  3. last week I had an experience with the sound of the chattering squirrel – and as I type this I start smiling broadly but not to the extent of last week where I was in stitches here at my computer and had to remove the bowl of soup to safety as it was threatening to wipe out my keyboard!

    a live chat was put in place for my art school and so I took the occasion to watch it…(they had practiced earlier in the week) but what they didn’t know was that the human voice stopped working…you could see the guy talking but the sound was distinctly “squirrels chattering…” the listeners at their computers typed into live chat and after the guy tried to fix it…still no go.

    so he said typed across the screen – be back…

    and so he was, but that squirrel stuff was too much…and everytime I looked at the presenter I cracked up here.

    I relistened a few days later and the live chat was fine, as long as I didn’t think “squirrels”

    (i”m in New Zealand we do not have any squirrels here)!

      1. some of our rodents are not nice at all… but what we do which is a protected species in Australia is a completely unprotected rogue here in NZ

        the possum – not the opossum you have in USA

        the good thing about them, is seeing them squashed dead on the road – although people have found a way to use their fur (which is similar qualities to the polar bear) but you need to trap them, and trap a lot of them to harvest that fur for the product- usually mixed with our merino sheep breed… many companies selling it.

  4. I love squirrels, but I’d never heard of the American Chickaree, the squirrel with three stripes or the Malabar Giant Squirrel. That tail is amazing! Re the three stripes, how people love to find explanations for things, even if the explanation is entirely fanciful!
    nick recently posted..All tarted up

    1. Myths and symbols go back to the time of simplicity and naiveté. The moral of the story of the three stripes is the one that resonates with children even now and they are fascinated when the story is told to them. They grow up and become cynical later anyway.

    1. Since writing that post I had an opportunity to share the story with a four year old young lad and the expression on his face was worth all the gold in the world!

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