Squirrel
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Basic Information

A squirrel is any one of a number of species of rodents, most of which are arboreal and possessed of thickly furred tails - although some of the larger members of the family such as the marmot match neither criterion. Squirrels tend to be moderate omnivores, consuming mostly plants (often in the form of seeds, nuts and fruit) but taking animal protein in some cases.

Culturally, squirrels often appear as liminal or trickster figures such as the messenger Ratatoskr from Norse Myth. More prosaically they are often considered to be vermin1 like many other rodents, being quite invasive and often attacking human food crops … this is far from a one way street however as they also serve as food themselves, with squirrel meat being a significant source of wild food for some cultures. The squirrel is also a fur bearing animal (albiet one of relatively low status) and can be hunted for this purpose as well - although as a small, fast moving target they are challenging to shoot and may be more easily trapped or snared (or poisoned if only their fur is required). The continental US also suffers from squirrel damage to the power grid (see below).

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Game and Story Use

  • "Squirrel shootin' an' road sign collectin'" are stereotypical hobbies for poor, rural Americans … road signs aside this is somewhat justified by the edibility of the squirrels in question. This can also explain how a character with a suitable background got such high firearms skills - shooting squirrels for the pot since he was old enough to lift a rifle.
    • For a pre-gunpowder world, substitute slinging - again, as vermin the squirrel might be one of very few wild animals a serf was permitted to "hunt".
  • Also squirrel fur as a low status trim or lining for fur coats - possibly even below rabbit and fox in status and so accessible to all sorts of people under even quite harsh sumptuary laws.
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