In last week’s Focus Alaska post, I wrote about ice and winter roads. These seasonal roads are constructed each winter to haul equipment and goods into remote places. But it’s not only humankind who constructs winter roads.
Squirrels construct huge road networks under and in the snowpack each winter. They dig long tunnels that they use to travel to their food resources with risking to be the victim of predatory birds like hawks, for instance. The photo below shows one of the entrances of such a road system. It ends on our driveway. Of course, when a new snow load came, we shoveled out driveway. Since this winter, there is so much snow, it happened several times that we by accident “closed” the entrance when shoveling our driveway.
We felt pretty bad about closing the whole when it happened the first time. However, the next day, the squirrel(s) had cleaned the entrance. After it had happened several times, a second entrance was built on the way to our door. Here the snow-pack is less deep as the area to be cleared is smaller than the driveway. Therefore, we can still throw the snow into the yard. Along the driveway there is a high snow pile that meanwhile looks like a a snow version of Hadrian’s Wall.
Well, there is also a long snow pile along the road. All newspaper and mail boxes in the neighborhood barely reach above the snow. Some of the mail boxes are now built-into the snow pile like our mail box in the photo below.
The squirrels who live in the slough area across the road love to seek for food from the bird feeder on the other side of our house. They built a snow road up the snow pile to our mail box. On the other side of the pile they built a subway system. We assume that the entrances/outlets on our driveway are part of this subway system under the snow surface.
Squirrels build such snow subways each winter. During snow-melt, they keep using the parts of the subways even that are still intact, while running fast between the parts that are already gone or have already collapsed. It is then when you get an idea about the subway network as you can see where they come out/go in and that these locations differ. This means there is a real network, not just a tunnel.
Focus Alaska is a series on Alaska lifestyle, curiousa, insider travel tips, and Alaska street style. You can find other posts on Alaska migratory birds, cute baby moose photos or the owls that visited this summer at the links.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
Photos of squirrel and the squirrel wholes: N. Mölders
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