"There were black squirrels in the wood. As Bilbo's sharp inquisitive eyes got used to seeing things he could catch glimpses of them whisking off the path and scuttling behind tree-trunks." (J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit)
As we start our adventure in LOTRO we soon notice we are sometime coming across timid and quick squirrels of different kind and in difference places in game, some more hard to reach than others. I often wondered why squirrels seems to feature so often in game . Of course, Tolkien himself mentions the little creature living in Mirkwood , pointing out that such squirrels are not edible and of horrible taste.
A friend and ally of the Wood-elves and Men of the Misty Mountains, the black squirrel of Mirkwood is often a source of uneasiness for visitors. We assume that the squirrels are evil on account of their color, an assumption which is false, black creatures in Middle-earth are not always evil. Centuries ago the squirrels were like any other in colors ; however, as the forest darkened, their coats gradually grew darker in color . Mirkwood squirrels often acts as eyes and ears for the Wood-elves, and this is really probably one of the reasons why we keep finding them across Middle-earth .
The squirrel 'ghost' in the Great Smials in Toukborough
I also believe the squirrel is a creature we can closely associate to hobbits. Just like hobbits squirrels are practical and resourceful . The squirrel is commonly known to hide and save its food and return to it in the winter months just like the hobbits fills their pantries. Squirrels are friends of the trees and plants sprouting from some of the nuts and seeds the little creatures hide away.
The hobbit and the 'dancing' squirrels
Some squirrels are not easy to find in LOTRO . The secret place where a hobbit stands surrounded by dancing squirrels is hidden up up in the mountains, between the North Downs and the Lone Lands, and even when we get there, we can only observe the scene from a distance.
The red squirrels in Rohan
The launch of the Helm's Deep expansion has seen the arrival of even more squirrels in LOTRO. I will of course not reveal where you can find them to avoid spoiling the fun of exploration. This time the game designers are gone truly 'nutty' for the place is absolutely overrun with red squirrels. So next time you are exploring in game have a look around you and in the trees and , just like Bilbo did, you will catch glimpses of them squirrels whisking off the path and scuttling behind tree-trunks.
Me going 'nutty'