My coeditor was out of town all last week visiting a friend on the West Coast. While out there he visited the great Powell’s bookstore several times and, after much deliberation, chose a lovely gift for me there: Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. Now, I thought I knew a thing or two about squirrels, but this beautifully illustrated and scholarly book has really opened my eyes to what an amazingly diverse family of animals this is. For one thing, I had no idea that prairie dogs, woodchucks, and marmots were all squirrels! In all, there are 278 known species of squirrel on all continents except Antarctica and Australia. Authors Richard Thorington and Katie Ferrell give plenty of space to our familiar North American varieties, but they also taught me about the various giant squirrels of Southeast Asia, such as the Giant Malabar Squirrel:

That's one big squirrel!

That's one big squirrel!

And the Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel:

He looks hand-painted!

He looks hand-painted!

So this has been my coffee-table reading since Sunday evening. As I learn interesting new things I’ll pass them along.

Advertisements