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Monday, 29 February 2016

Woodland Mystery

One of the curious things we've seen along the boardwalk is this old tree trunk, 



disappearing before our eyes as an animal chews it to pieces. 



From Ginnie's comments on the "Squirrel" piece I posted last week, I suspect squirrels are the ones chewing the wood. Any creature who can get into an attic and chew everything in sight...



This poses the question, why? Red squirrels do not eat insects and it is too cold for insects now anyway. Is it just because they are idle and chew during the hours people are not around to feed and entertain them? What is the attraction? Or, is it some other creature chewing at this stump?



According to the Macphail Woods Ecological Project, these are the mammals on Prince Edward Island:

little brown bat
eastern coyote
red fox
raccoon
snowshoe hare
American mink
ermine
striped skunk
beaver
muskrat
eastern chipmunk
flying squirrel
red squirrel
deer mice
jumping mice
voles
house mice
shrews.

This photo shows the top of the stump where woodpecker holes and lichen may be clues as well.



There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there in blogger-land. Are the red squirrels responsible? What is your theory?



15 comments:

  1. I never heard of squirrels chewing up trees, but they are certainly capable. I hope somebody will put this mystery to rest. I just don't know. :-)

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    1. You can see the bite marks in the trunk I think and the pieces of wood are small chips. Very curious.

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  2. It looks like the bark is being chewed off at quite a height, so that would rule out beavers, rabbits and such. I've never heard of squirrels chewing tree bark before, but who knows?

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    1. Beavers wouldn't chew the tree like this is done. It's a puzzle.

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  3. Hi! That is heavy-duty tree damage! Our squirrels only chew on something (like a screen or a garbage can lid) if they want what is inside. They don't chew for the sake of chewing. Termites or carpenter ants can do a lot of damage. Just as long as they don't go near a house, they are fine in the woods! Andrea

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    1. It is too cold to be insect activity. Could insects be dormant in the tree and dug out by another mammal? Red squirrels don't eat insects.

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  4. Plenty of insects overwinter under bark but this looks a bit excessive. I wonder could it be water freezing in the dead wood and expanding the bits of tree off.

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    1. It looks like the trunk has bite marks, Adrian. They look like small teeth marks.

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  5. I have b=never heard of squirrels chewing on wood before. We have only grey squirrels which look so much larger. I was so fascinated after reading your post that I googled it and discovered that the squirrels chew on things to clean, sharpen and maintain their teeth. If they found a good place to chew, they will keep coming back so maybe they are the culprits! It does look like lots of chewing! Sarah x

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  6. It sure is a lot of chewing with small teeth. I wonder is the damage from the flying squirrels?

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  7. I'd like to hear the answer if you figure it out.

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  8. I think it's the work of woodpeckers. they can create quite a pile of wood chips.

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    1. i wonder! It looks like teeth marks to me though!

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