A Fearsome Critter To Behold: The Treesqueak
The forests of North America are filled to the brim with countless unknowns. Within the dense wood lurk hidden creatures, strange sights, and mysterious noises. For every mystery though, there is usually a pretty common solution, and for the most part, animals are to blame. But what do you blame your mysteries on if you are a lumberjack in the unsettled woods of early North America? Simple, Fearsome Critters. Narrowly miss being crushed by a large snapped off branch from a dead tree? Blame an Agropelter for throwing it at you. Stumble into a large section of dead trees leaning to one side and about to fall down? Blame a Hugag for leaning against them. Hear a strange noise from within the woods but are unable to locate its source? Blame a Treesqueak.
The Treesqueak was described as a relatively small Critter that somewhat resembled a weasel or an opossum. It was completely covered in hair, possessed a long tail, long limbs, and had a reasonably friendly temperament, but would become aggressive if it went too long without mating. It also shared some of the abilities of a common chameleon. The Critter was able to completely wrap it’s arms, legs, and tail around a thick tree branch and blend into the bark so perfectly that it became almost invisible. This was how the Treesqueak spent most of its life, rarely seen on the ground and wrapped tightly around a branch.
When the Critter was old enough to leave its birth nest, it would go forth into the vast woods in order to find a suitable long-term home for itself. The desired location that the Treesqueak searched for in order to build its nest was most often located at the point in which a dead fallen tree meets a “school marm” tree (a tree that branches into two sections from the trunk. A forked tree). If the Treesqueak was for some reason unable to find this combination of trees, it would then build its nest high up off the ground upon any tree branch that rubbed up against the branch of an adjacent tree.
For a majority of the time, the Treesqueak remained in its nest and silent, but that didn’t mean it didn’t like to talk, it just waited for the right time to do so. The only time the Critter would ever make a sound was on windy days. It didn’t matter if it was a light breeze or a wind storm, as long as the nest of the Treesqueak shook, the Critter would yell out into the woods.
The call was described in a variety of different ways, sometimes it was soft and sounded like a squeaky door, other times it was loud and resembled a squealing pig. On rare occasions it would even sound like a gunshot or a bunch of fire crackers going off within the deep woods. It was also during this time that the Treesqueak’s friendly temperament would change to mischievous. The creature was so skilled at creating such a wide variety of sounds within the windy woods that lumberjacks would become so curious as to their source that they would have no choice but to go searching for them in order to quell their curiosity. But, because the Critter was practically invisible upon the branch, those actively searching for the source of the noise would never find it. The Treesqueak would watch as the lumberjacks became lost within the forest and it took great pleasure in seeing them have to call for help in order to find their way back out. Because of this, lumberjacks knew that whenever a strange noise echoed throughout the forest on a windy day, the Treesqueak was most often to blame.
“In early lumberjack folklore, fearsome critters were mythical beasts that were said to inhabit the frontier wilderness of North America. The critters were a part of lumberjack downtime and were often used to welcome and haze newcomers to the camp. Lumberjacks who would go from camp to camp would bring their entertaining stories with them and they would slowly spread as tall tales across America.”
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Public Domain