By Wendy Langhans
One of the first signs of puberty is the growing collection of smelly grooming products – deodorants, perfumes and hair gels – that threaten to take over all the shelf space in the bathroom. These products are designed with one purpose in mind: to help the teenager blend in with the crowd by looking and smelling like everyone else.
California ground squirrels use smelly grooming products too, but with a twist. They chew up discarded rattlesnake skins and apply the scent to their bodies by licking their fur. To watch a short video of how they do this, click here.
California Ground Squirrel.
Ground squirrels are not applying hair gel to spike their hair; they are applying deodorant. They either want to mask their own smell or smell like their mortal enemy, the rattlesnake.
Ground squirrels are active during the day and sleep at night. They live in colonies in a system of underground burrows, extending 5-30 feet in length and 2-4 feet below the surface. The 4″ openings to these burrows are small enough to protect the squirrels from large predators, but not from smaller ones like rattlesnakes.
They need another form of 24-hour protection: a way to hide their scent or mimic another creature’s scent. At night, when the ground squirrels are sound asleep in their burrows, a rattlesnake will approach the opening, take a sniff, think there is another snake in the burrow and pass it by. At least that’s the idea – and it seems to work.
Talk about 24-hour odor protection….perhaps I ought to suggest it to the marketing folks at Gillette.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, August 22nd, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.
Saturday, August 15, 8:00 AM. Early Morning Bird Hike.
During the long days of summer, birds are busiest in the morning before the heat of day sets in. It is also the perfect time to enjoy a leisurely stroll through Towsley Canyon to meet our friends of flight. Beginners are welcome. Bring your binoculars. 2 hours, easy walk.
Saturday, August 22, 2009. Acorns, Sea and Sage: Chumash Native Americans. Ranch house at William S. Hart Museum.
Discover how the Chumash used their natural resources to survive hundreds of years ago. You even have a chance to grind your own acorns! Activities geared for 3-10 year olds, but all ages welcome. Adults must accompany child. For more information, call 661-254-4584 or visit www.hartmuseum.org.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.