Squirrels know a nut when they see one

My mom spanked a squirrel.

This memory re-emerged several days ago and then reasserted itself again this morning.

Mom takes a nice little handful of pills in the morning. Most mornings, one pill will miss her mouth. I tell her not to take them all at once, but ignoring me has become her favorite pastime. Whatever.

This morning, she used both hands to push the pills into her mouth and I laughed. So as not to seem rude, I told her about her past with squirrels.

A number of years ago, mom had a shop in one end of the house. It had a separate entrance. One day she was in the shop working and felt someone watching her. She kept looking around, but no one was there. Finally, mom slowly turned to the door and noticed this little gray squirrel peeping around the door to the yard. She got up, walked over and started a conversation with the little girl, now called “Peeper.” Mom had some peanuts and opened the door to give to give Peeper one. Then two. Then three.

Over the next several months, Peeper would come to the shop door — or the house door on days the shop was closed — and wait for mom to feed her peanuts. She would sit and eat, then always take one for the road.

We learned important things about squirrels. First: they have no bladder control. Don’t leave the inside door open. They will jump on the outer door and pee through the screen. Second: male squirrels are a jealous lot. Mom would go out and sit on the porch, feed Peeper by hand and scratch her between the ears, while threatening and chasing males trying to steal Peeper’s peanuts.

One day, Peeper came by and her poor tail was badly mangled. We never saw her again.

By grendel|khan via Wikimedia Commons


When mom moved to our condo, she loved sitting at the patio table, drinking tea and doing crosswords. One day, I came down from the parking lot and told mom there was a baby squirrel on a side balcony. Apparently, it had jumped from a nearby tree and was afraid to jump back again. She walked to the side of the building and proceeded to try to teach the squirrel how to jump back to the tree. So there’s mom, on the ground, pretending to jump to a tree, while the squirrel watched from above. Later, the squirrel was gone. I guess it figured out what mom was trying to teach.

Several days after that, mom was sitting on the patio and she felt something tug at her pant leg. There was a baby squirrel, looking up at her. Again with the peanuts. While this squirrel didn’t make a further habit of begging peanuts, it would run alongside mom as she walked to or from the parking lot. From what I heard, they had some good talks.

Now the main event. Mom put suet out for the birds. One day she looked and a squirrel was hanging off the feeder, stuffing all the suet he could into his mouth. Yes — a male. That was easily discerned during the following events.

Mom went to the door and told him to get away from the feeder. She was ignored. She walked over to the feeder and tried to get the squirrel’s attention. No luck.

So she reached out and swatted the squirrel across the but and yelled at him. No reaction from the squirrel at all. Mom reached over and tugged on his tail; the squirrel let go of the feeder. Surprise! Mom squeaked and threw the squirrel over toward the courtyard wall. Undeterred, the squirrel ran to the top of the wall, sat there and patted all the suet into place before he nodded to mom and ran off.

I looked at mom and said, “Can you imagine the story he’s going to tell at home tonight? His wife will tell him to lay off the crack.”

By Dismas, via Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “Squirrels know a nut when they see one

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  1. That is a terrific story… Never tried to strike up a conversation with a squirrel… I did not know what I was missing…

    The only real squirrel story I have happened on campus… Walking form East halls toward Pattee, when suddenly I heard this loud crashing up above me, and then, with a loud thump, a squirrel landed in front of me on its backside (probably a male, guess ing by what happened), clutching two broken twigs / tree branch stems in its paws…

    Near as I can figure, the squirrel was jumping from tree branch to tree branch as they are want to do, and chose to try and and on some dead, or nearly dead, branches.

    It lay there looking stunned, then embarrassed, and went scurrying off.

    Happy talk like a Pirate’s Day! Aaarrghhh!

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