RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — It’s tuna time in Texas! The fruit, or “tuna” of the Prickly Pear Cactus as it is known in Spanish, is a popular treat in the South Texas ranch country this time of year.
The tasty tunas attract a variety of wildlife, and no creature of the chaparral savors the ripe delicacies more than the native ground squirrel.
It can be a bit of a learning process figuring out just how to properly tackle the tunas, and this youngster is studying the technique from various angles as his mom munches away from her lofty perch.
At first junior settles for a few scraps that fall to the ground, but that is just not good enough, so he boldly scrambles to the top of the cactus where the tempting tunas await…however, just when he is about to bite into that first luscious fruit he topples from the tunas.
The little rascal eventually figures it out, and soon he is savoring the sweet summer treats.
The lumbering Texas tortoise is unable to climb atop the cactus, but this hardy denizen of the brush country is usually able to find sufficient low-hanging fruit to satisfy its hunger.
From squat tortoises to towering Nilgai antelope, tunas are a favorite food for wildlife, and this mature bull deftly snatches the natural bounty.
A variety of birds easily access the annual crop, and the Curve-billed Thrasher with its long, thick down-curved bill is often among the first to pierce them.
However, no creature seems to savor the tasty tunas more than the ground squirrel, and when he pauses for a moment, lifting his face from the lush fruit, he’s sporting a glistening purple countenance, sort of like a kid with a cherry snow cone or a juicy raspa on a hot summer day.