My bicycle commute takes me through the territory of a colony of squirrels. I think it’s one colony, but it might be two, given the numbers of squirrels scampering about. There are plenty of bushes and trees, and the ground sort of levels out into a small urban meadow. Also, it’s right on a major bike path and near the airport, so there are lots of food opportunities.
Even though there’s probably plenty of food for them, around the October-November timeframe the squirrels start to get, well, squirrelly. Their hoarding instinct starts to kick in as the days get shorter, and they start running around like crazy more, to include darting across the bike path with frightening frequency. One day in October this year I had two near-misses, and both were due to squirrels.
All that said, there seems to be a special, suicide squad type of squirrel that lives in this colony. Maybe I just notice them more in the fall and winter, but it seems like as other squirrels are winding down for the year, the really cool looking black ones are just gearing up. They’re also the most likely to dart in front of a moving bicycle, it seems. They’re usually hard to see in the grassy areas because they do blend in with the dark shadows under the trees and bushes, so when they do rush across the path, it’s a bit of a jolt. You just hope you don’t skid off the path or actually run into the little beastie.
Given the way they hang off in the shadows (quite literally) when it’s the hardest to see them, then go running like mad across the path in front of a moving bicycle, often at the bottom of a hill, I have to wonder if it’s all a set up. It’s as if the squirrel colony has trained the suicide squad to make use of their natural camouflage to cause a few additional crashes where they could scavenge for any food that comes spilling out of the bags. I can just hear them chittering in delight at the thought as an especially inattentive bicycle commuter comes down the path.
Just another reason to make sure you have a good bike light and are paying close attention to your surroundings while biking–you wouldn’t want to be the next victim of the suicide squirrel squad.