Monday, October 14, 2013
"You certainly got a good response to your question on the tree collar. Some serious, more for amusement, and some hilarious."
That was my mother in an email yesterday. And she is correct -- as mothers usually are (with the exception of haircuts). I can always count on readers to add some of the most interesting ideas and writing in the comments section.
First of all, I really enjoyed the creative humor. The writers' room at The Simpsons could use your talents.
Here is the answer. At least, the one I as told.
In a general sense, the collars on the trees are there to prevent varmints from climbing the tree. And you are correct, Felipe, that would have been too obvious. I was after the type of varmint.
Like Sparks, the first thing I thought of when I saw the collars were the anti-rat funnels attached to ship lines in harbors. They serve the same purpose, but rats are not the varmints in question.
Even though, I understand tree rats are a huge problem in Los Angeles. The rats have a tendency to fallout of the palms onto pedestrians. I always considered that to be an urban myth -- because there are no pedestrians in Los Angeles.
And, as far as I know, lizards, raccoons, and coatimundis have no taste for coconuts. But I know what does.
Take a look at the photograph at the top. This is what the collars are designed to prevent. Something has taken a lot of trouble to get through that thick husk. My neighbors need a machete to get to the coconut shell.
And then there is the shell itself. When my aunt lived in Hawaii, she would send us coconuts. At the age of six, I learned that breaking through a coconut shell is not easy.
But it is if you are a persistent rodent.
Two years ago, I caught our subject pest in full coconut-carving mode -- in flagrante delicto. (that gnawing feeling) It took the rascal two days to break through. But he stuck with it.
The collars are there to prevent squirrels from having their way with the plantation owners' crops. The few squirrels in this neighborhood do an incredible amount of coconut damage. I can only imagine what the cost would be to the growers.
Now, I have shared something I learned in the tropics of Mexico.
And you have shared with me far more fun than a tow sack filled with squirrels.
And, from a nature boy, that is saying a lot.