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Squirrels are not well socialized.

There's this charming little squirrel I've named Spot (because he bears a light-colored spot on his back; clever, I know) who is not terribly afraid of people; in fact, when we toss seeds onto the back patio (in response to his begging), he doesn't run away but instead waits while his siblings dash off to safety. In fact, Spot seems as if he wants to come inside. Lately, I always close the garage door behind me when I enter.

This scene takes place several times a day: Spot climbs to the top of this fencepost, right outside the kitchen window, and looks cute and globular in an attempt to get more handouts. It usually works. Most often, he trundles up to the back door, a sliding-glass affair, and peers in as if to say, "Hungry out here. The seed is gone. More please!" When the dumb humans fail to heed his call, he finds other ways to get our attention, such as this. He also climbs the wall and gets on top of the back-yard floodlights, so as to reach eye-level and peer inside. "Ahem. Hungry!" Clever boy.

Because I'm an optimist and a fool, today I decided to try something new. Holding an almond in my outstretched fingers, I opened the patio door, knelt down, and made the universal tongue-smacking-feeding-time sound at Spot. He nervously hopped around, looking at me, at one point uttering a chittering sound with his teeth. I think it translates roughly as, "Stupid human. Just drop the almond and no one gets hurt!" Of course I didn't listen.

Eventually he decided to take the almond. Now, don't think Disney-princess interaction here, imagine something more along the lines of Cujo. Yup, charming little Spot leaped onto the back of my hand and then jumped away, skittering around a bit until coming to rest a foot or two away from my now-scratched-up hand. "Warned you, buddy. Now drop it."

I tossed him the almond and closed the door.

Moral of the story? In the immortal words of Guy Fleegman, "Of course they're cute now. But in a second they're going to turn mean and ugly somehow and then there are going to be a million more of them!"

Yeah, maybe I won't continue my efforts to hand-train ungrateful little Spot.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 6th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Dec. 6th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Dec. 6th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Hardee har har.
Dec. 6th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)

Rats with fancy tails, that's all.
Mean little farkers, too.
Wait til one gets in your attic and chews up all your wiring, or dies in the chimney, or they wake you up at all hours because squirrel sex in a nice warm attic is FUN!

Dec. 6th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 6th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Hm, that's a good question. You can get that from squirrels?
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC)
I don't think he meant to hurt me, just got over-excited. Even so... if I do this again, methinks I'll wear gloves.
Dec. 7th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
They're good for ten years, if you're wondering.
Dec. 7th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Rodents aren't common carriers
of rabies, they don't tend to get exposed to it. In the southwest they can spread bubonic plague but they're ill from it when they spread it. But knowing you have a current tetanus shot and keeping watch for secondary infection (animal claws are dirty) are the things to do. (My doc does it on our decade birthdays)
Dec. 6th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
Chris, it's important to remember that they cannot see right in front of their snouts, so they're going in blind. He's not roughing you up on purpose, he's just trying to figure out how to get the nut and your hand is in the way. Almonds are way too small to use in hand-feeding - get peanuts in the shell, and use the biggest ones you can find. I kind of steer the peanut into their mouths. Athos, my most gentlemanly squirrel, softly puts one paw on my hand and waits for me to guide the peanut in. Kevin bit me only because I wasn't paying any attention and he just misjudged where the nut was in relation to my hand. A few of them will knock the nut out of my hand with their paw and pick it up. Some of my troop are still too scared to actually feed from my hand, even though they see the best-socialized ones succeeding over and over. They're being as brave as they're capable of being, coming close but shying away at the last minute. So don't give up - just make a few changes in how you're doing it!
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
Good advice all around! I was spoiled, I guess, as a kid by the family of squirrels in my dad's back yard. They'd come right up to my hand and take peanuts from my palm, all delicate-like, standing on my finger-tips.

This one? He's a bit too feisty and over-enthusiastic, I suspect. Next time: gloves. And bigger nuts. (Heh heh.)
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
One thing I hate about winter is that it's dark when I leave the house and dark when I come home, so I don't get to see my troop (or my jays) except on weekends. I still put out the big pile of peanuts and the little pile of mixed nut$ and the ear of corn every day. I feel like I'm paying child support full time but have only weekend visitations.

Squirrels aren't the issue at our house - but we have a serious flicker problem. They've really turned into bullies.
Dec. 8th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
I remember how much more darkness we endured in the Northwest - it seems downright sunny here compared!

Hahaha! I know what you mean about the cost of feeding our outdoor friends. Gosh, I go through a bag of sunflower seeds every week or two, plus the bag of miscellaneous birdseed. And the occasional tasty treat for the unappreciative little bastards.
Dec. 7th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
Skwirlz are WILD ANIMALS. Do not expect manners.

Tree rats, albeit cute ones with fuzzy tails and good PR agents.
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
True dat.
Dec. 7th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Hahahahahahahahaaa! Thank you so much for the laugh!
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
I'm like a gladiator: I shed my blood to entertain ;-)
Dec. 7th, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)
I saw a really nice slingshot in the window at Ernst & Sons the other day.
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
Hey now.
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
WHAT a cutie!!! I know, I know, scratched up hands are not so cute and definitely not fun, but you have to admit he's pretty darn cute. You just have to do it his way.

Also, just noticing here, but Spot is looking pretty rotund!!! LOL!! I wonder if he treks from house to house, pulling the same stunt on everyone! :)
Dec. 8th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Isn't he though? And globular! I'm pleased to help with fattening them up for winter.
Dec. 8th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
Re: gloves, ask me about my prairie dog story.
Dec. 8th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Uh-oh, I'm thinking the gloves didn't help much....
Dec. 8th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
lol. Your squirrels are too cute -- even when they're ugly.
Dec. 8th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
So true!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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