Squirrels may be small, but in Northern Kenya they are considered the smartest animal in the african bush. Here is why!
The Samburu people of Kenya believe that long time ago all animals and trees could talk. Elephants, giraffes, birds, and squirrels, among others, could speak to each other. An old story says that one of those days a lioness and an ostrich gave birth on the exact same day, in close proximity.
The small ones were growing peacefully in Samburu until suddenly the lion cubs started getting sick. They had scabies and the infection kept growing. It was a terrible sight (they were even losing their hair. One day that both mothers had been out for food the lioness returned earlier and, after looking at her very sick children, went to the ostrich’s nest. Silently she took the children of the ostrich and put her cubs on their place, thinking that maybe the ostrich would not find out. She just wanted to have healthy children again.
When Ostrich came back and realized that her children were looking odd and sick she understood that something weird had happened. She then looked at Lioness and discovered that her children were with her. “I should say something”, she thought, but the words could not come out of her beak. The lion terrified her!
So Ostrich called all the animals of Samburu for a meeting in the African bush, and all the animals came: Lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, birds, small creatures, all gathered around the ostrich waiting for her to open the meeting.
—I have a problem —Ostrich said—. My children have been stolen by someone.
Without looking directly at Lioness, she pointed at the sick cubs:
—These are not my children. They are very sick and mine were healthy.
The animals listened and asked both mothers to lead them to their homes so they could confirm what had happened with the kids. On the next day, after checking both nests, they went back to the meeting place and asked Rabbit to quickly go and call Ostrich and Lioness again.
—Have you discovered the truth? —said Ostrich without losing time.
But no animal spoke. They were all too afraid that the lion could eat them! Suddenly a small voice came from the ground. It was Squirrel:
—I think I have the answer, but because I am too short you need to find another meeting place where it is easier for me to talk. It needs to have a big tree and there should be an ant hill inside. I will be the only one staying on top of that ant hill, inside the tree, for everyone to see. That way no one will be able to say that someone is forcing me into saying anything.
All animals agreed and started the search for the new place. Once they found it, Squirrel climbed the ant hill and asked loudly:
—Have you ever seen an animal with feathers that will give birth to one with hair?
—No —all the animals said.
—Have you ever seen an animal with hair that gives birth to one with feathers?
—No —they all replied again.
—If an animal with hair cannot give birth to one with feathers, and an animal with feathers cannot give birth to one with hair, then the sick children must be from the lion —the squirrel said, and knowing that every animal had heard the truth, she quickly disappeared inside the hole.
The mystery was unveiled, and by the time Lioness realized she had lost, Squirrel was already gone. And this is why nowadays the Samburu people of Kenya believe that the squirrel can be the smallest animal in the African bush, but also the cleverest one.