Saturday, 28 May 2011
This week's Illustration Friday prompt is asleep. Kind of a tough one for me since I'm more than a bit of an insomniac. My first reaction was very much "asleep? what is that, exactly?"
Anyway. What you have here is me taking advantage of the prompt to do a little bit of preliminary sketching for a project I'll be doing at work. I need some pictures of Richardson's Ground Squirrels (that'd be Urocitellus richardsonii for the nerds among us. You know, like me) during various parts of their life cycle for a school program I'm in the midst of rewriting. Still haven't decided whether I'm going with drawings or photos, but this is a start.
Ground Squirrels are crazy good at hibernating. And yes, while the little biologist voice in the back of my head is saying that torpor isn't the same thing as sleeping, the rest of me is saying that it's close enough for the purpose. At any rate, if you're an adult male Richardson's Ground Squirrel you start your hibernation in mid-June. Yes, seriously. It's mid-July for the adult females. Even the youngsters don't stay out terribly long; the last stragglers are generally down before mid-October.
The hibernation den is lined with grasses, and is completely blocked off before the animal beds down for the winter to help reduce the risk of predation. Imagine that: you wake up after a looong sleep, and the first thing you have to do is dig yourself up to the surface. It's the Great Escape every single spring for these guys.
If you're interested at all in Ground Squirrels and want to know more, the best place I can think of to start is with the University of Lethbridge's Richardson's Ground Squirrel pages. I find them kind of fascinating, but then I've already admitted my nerdity to you folks...