Let’s talk about the squirrels that usually can be seen in a park, like Central Park in New York City or in trees of private home owners. Their fast little creatures and they look awfully darn cute with their bushy tails.
When I lived in California there were so many squirrels on top of the roof they sounded like they were having morning races.
I saw a pool man save a squirrel by giving the poor little lifeless thing mouth to mouth resuscitation and light presses on it’s chest. Well low and behold the squirrel recovered and wasn’t full of energy. It took its time to recover and it was on its way.
Weird & Wild From the National Geography:
Risqué photo sparks unusual discussion of squirrel anatomy
Some things you have to see to believe—like this buxom squirrel that’s taken Twitter by storm in Japan.
From the male peacock’s ornate tail to the female macaque’s bright red, swollen backside, animals have evolved many different ways to attract potential mates.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that when a visitor to the Inokashira Park Zoo outside of Tokyo discovered a Japanese squirrel with what appeared to be large breasts, he described the animal as “sexy.”
The photo, posted on Twitter earlier this month, has been shared more than 47,000 times and received 141,000 likes, so it’s clear that humans are drawn to the animal. But what about the squirrels?
“’Sexy’ is a qualitative term that humans assign,” says Jessica Haines, an ecologist at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada.
“I would doubt that other squirrels are looking at this squirrel and thinking that she looks sexy.”
The Mystery of Tokyo’s ‘Sexy Squirrel’
For starters, the traits that convey attractiveness vary widely across species. So it was never very likely that what some humans view as fetching would be universally regarded as stimulating by squirrels.
But there’s another, more basic reason why a squirrel with human-like bosom is such an unusual sight.
“Squirrels have nipples that go all the way up and down their chest,” says Haines, who researches red squirrels in Alberta. (Related: These Adorable Squirrels Are Also Baby-Killing Cannibals)
In other words, if a squirrel were going to have cleavage, it would have multiple rows that repeat down to the groin. (Mammary gland count differs by species, but can reach up to ten for squirrels.)
And for those of you who think the squirrel—which does appear to be a female—might be lactating, Haines ruled out that hypothesis, too. This is because when squirrels are nursing pups, their nipples elongate, and the skin around them loses its fur, all of which make a lactating female recognizable from a distance.
For scientists studying squirrels, “most of us are so trained that we can see large nipples with the naked eye when a squirrel is about 30 to 40 feet into a tree,” says Ben Dantzer, an integrative biologist at the University of Michigan.
So if the squirrel isn’t advertising itself for a mate and isn’t full of mother’s milk, then what’s going on here?
Dantzer’s best guess is that it’s a combination of an unusual pose mixed with an excess of fat. But this is strange, too, because tree squirrels like this species don’t really get fat in the wild.
Instead of storing fat on their bodies, squirrels hide their seeds and nuts—and the calories they contain—belowground or in tree crevices. (Read: 5 Surprising Facts About Squirrels)
“I suspect that this squirrel, just by looking at the picture, probably lives around humans and eats a lot of garbage and fatty foods,” says Dantzer.
Fascination to Education
While it probably feels a little juvenile to focus so much attention on the chest of a squirrel, the viral photo might as well be an opportunity to celebrate the many strategies mammals have developed for feeding their young.
Female humans have two mammary glands located on the pectorals, of course. But did you know this is also where elephants, hyraxes, and manatees feed their offspring?
Many other mammals keep their mammary glands further down the belly, such as dogs, cats, and horses. Cows also have mammary glands near the pelvis, but each of their four separate glands has fused into a single structure called an udder.
“Each quarter has its own teat and ductal system that’s entirely separate from the other quarters,” says Amy Skibiel, a lactation physiologist at the University of Idaho.
Believe it not, some species of bats seem to have the best of both worlds, sporting both pectoral and pelvic nipples. However, only the top pair produce milk. The bottom ones are called false nipples, and are actually used as handles for baby bats to hold onto while their mother is in flight.
And there are the monotremes, like the duck-billed platypus and echidna. They don’t have nipples at all.
“Monotremes have what’s called an areola, which is a mammary patch,” says Skibiel. “The milk kind of oozes out onto the patch, and the young lap it up.”
Come to think of it, maybe a buxom squirrel isn’t that weird after all