It’s squirrel mating season.
I could probably have finished off the day without being made aware of this fact.
Also, I’m now pretty sure that Lumpy is a girl.
Or possibly…no, let’s just go with “Lumpy’s a girl.” There are evidentally gay squirrels, but spending too long ogling the genitals of my rodent population and speculating on their sex lives makes me suspect that I’m not getting out of the house nearly often enough.
In case anybody didn’t really want to cling to their appetite, ‘twould appear that the gray squirrel is one of a vast array of rodents that subscribe to the “vaginal plug” school of male competition. The nameless male*, having mated with our no-longer-botfly-riddled heroine, deposited first the usual, then a mucusy secretion that hardens into a plug. In some species, this may last for quite awhile, defying the attempts of subsequent suitors to get their genes passed on. (This sort of thing is pretty common, evidentally–sperm competition is a heated evolutionary arms race, as one attempts to outmanuever the other guy’s…err…guys. Some of the others include massive overproduction of sperm, killer sperm, cocktails of nasty chemicals in the ejaculate, and of course, the plug.) In the squirrels, evidentally it doesn’t last all that long, and according to at least one report the female can actually pull it out when she’s ready to get back in the swing of things, which is a mental image I’m squelching before it can get anywhere near my brain.
Supposedly there’s heated competition for female squirrels, and males will chase a female in heat all over the place, in hordes, but I did not witness any of this fascinating world of squirrel nookie, however. Lumpy appeared deeply bored by the whole encounter, which lasted approximately long enough for me to say “OH DEAR GOD!” and that was pretty much that.
*Not one of the usual gang, which now consist of Lumpy, Gimpy, Stumpy, and Notch, for all you people hoping for a Disneyesque horde…