Franklin stuffs yet another campanula leaf into his mouth.
He's been showing up regularly for weeks. Quick and nimble, he teases the silly dog by hiding in drainpipes. He appears to live and work alone, scooting out of the pipes and through the flowerbeds. Thinking he might be a gopher, we tried to catch him using the live trap, but he would have none of it. He's shown a remarkable preference for chewing on Campanula punctata 'Pantaloons.' Just the 'Pantaloons'. Another Campanula punctata, 'Cherry Bells', grows a few yards away but he has no interest in it. What's up with that?
For the record, he's not a gopher. Outdoors writer Sam Cook helped us determine that he is a Franklin's ground squirrel. The Minnesota DNR is tracking ground squirrel sightings this year as part of its MN County Biological Survey.
Unlike the resident red squirrels, which chatter and scold loudly throughout the day, this guy has been mostly silent. I could, however, hear him chewing while I photographed him eating the campanula. Those jaws move rapidly!
Our Franklin (I've taken to calling him by name) is a pioneer of sorts. Franklin's ground squirrels are more common in southern Minnesota, but, as Sam reports, they are moving north. More information about the Franklin's can be found here.