Thursday, October 21, 2010


October is Squirrel Awareness Month. What's that? Oh, you knew? Well, then.

Be that as it may, perhaps this might be the perfect time to share a tale, or even a tail, or two, regarding several squirrels of which I have become aware. Why not take a minute today to be more aware of the squirrels in your world? Do your part to avoid Squirrel Unawareness.

Squirrel roadkill photo
Squirrel Unawareness: the tragic consequences.


Squirrel FAIL #1

It's kind of unusual to see an animal screw up, don't you think? We take it for granted that a cat will land on its feet, or that a squirrel will run along power lines without a care in the world. Not so.

One day, as my father and I sat on his front porch, talking about this and that, we paused to watch just such a squirrel. He ran along the power line, seemingly without a care. He reached a telephone pole and stepped onto the cross-beam.

ZISH! A flash of blue light, the sound of arcing electricity, the dull thud of squirrel hitting ground. The end.

You don't see that every day.


Squirrel FAIL #2

I have been blessed with an enormous oak tree: home and grocery for numerous squirrels. I like to watch them. They're at least as interesting as anything on TV. Still, they usually just go about their squirreling. This includes chasing each other around for reasons known to them alone.

The cable line from my house runs about eighteen feet above the street below. One morning, as I watched one squirrel chase another onto it, the chaser inexplicably lost his footing. He fell to the street, landing with a sickening thwack. It sounded like two pounds of raw meat falling eighteen feet onto concrete.

Which kind of makes sense, if you think about it.

He lay in the road, unmoving. Chasee descended the oak across the road, looking curiously at Chaser. I could almost hear a tiny voice:
"Al? Yo, AL! You ok? Hey Al! Can you hear me?"
Finally, Al revived a bit. Groggily, he got to his feet. He stumbled off to the side of the road and sat there stunned. Eventually, he came around and climbed back into the trees. More carefully.

Or so it seemed.


Squirrel Undercover

"What the hell is that ?!?" I heard my wife cry from the kitchen. She pointed out the kitchen window to an odd gray critter in the yard I didn't recognize. Too small to be an opossum, plus it was daytime. Too puffy to be a rat. It looked like some sort of alien hedgehog.

It looked at me. Then, it slowly let down its tail, which had been lying flat along its spine, covering its head. Squirrel. Oh.

He stood up, and gave me a wink and a wave.


Squirrel Under-the-Covers

"What the hell is that ?!?" I heard my wife cry from the dining room. On the back porch, unmoving, lay some sort of animal-thing. From the window, it almost looked like a lizard: not too likely during a cold, rainy March in Rhode Island. I went out to investigate.

Abandoned baby squirrel. I figured we should give it some time, maybe an hour or so. Perhaps Mom would come and get him. I'm sure they have ways of managing. I mean they do, right?

An hour later he was still there. My wife called animal control and was referred to a licensed squirrel rehabilitator. This struck me as a little odd. There seems to be no shortage of squirrels. Then again, why not? I can think of worse hobbies. Calls were made. Pickup was arranged.

Since the squirrel was now officially our guest, it seemed he should be taken in out of the rain and put to bed. The which I did.


Squirrels Gone Bad

I always blamed the local kids for our smashed pumpkins: Occam's razor and all. Not anymore. One fall, we were blessed with a surfeit of pumpkins, enough of them that I decorated the back porch as well as the front.

I was sitting at the table, drinking my coffee, when the two furry thugs arrived. They looked around nervously. There was evil in their beady little eyes. Teaming up, they rolled a pumpkin onto its side, pushed it to the edge of the stairs, then over. The buffet now open, they descended to feed. I opened the slider. Pausing, they stared at me.

One of them gave me the finger.


Squirrel FAIL #3

For some, the entire purpose of life is to serve as an example to others. Poor Mr. Squirrel. Not much left of him. Yet his tail remained for a week, almost vertical, waving in the breeze along Broad Street. I thought of my youngest sister, returning home from preschool one day, desperate to perform a new song for us. I could almost hear her four year-old voice singing: Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, shake your bushy tail.

I know I'm not the only one who noticed this gruesome display.


Just Like Chicken

Over the weekend, Mr. Squirrel, or what was left of him, vanished. Where did he go? Well, I can't say for sure. I do know he met his end by an eclectic little sandwich shop. You know the kind of place: where the only thing flakier than the home-baked rolls is the counter help?

Interesting specials, no? Relax. It's a joke.

I think.


Well, there you have it. In honor of Squirrel Awareness Month, seven tales, and one tail, of squirrels I have known. Why not raise a toast to the Sciuridae? May I suggest New Glarus Brewing Company's Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale?

Whether you love our little furry friends or think they are nothing but tree-rats, I hope you've been entertained. And I know you will find the beer excellent. That alone should be worth something.

I think.

Rodently Yours,




Land of shimp said...

Oooooooh Cricket, hehehehe, PETA is somewhere chorusing, "We are not amused!!!" but I am.

By the way, our old neighbor, the one that overdecorated for all holidays with the Giant Inflatable Turkey for Thanksgiving, and Stalking Snowman for Christmas (among others)...well he named all squirrels Sparky. Particularly apropos with that first Squirrel Fail story, eh?

Joe, for that is our ex-neighbors name (although, we still own that house as a is he now our rented neighbor? We've been renting Joe! Who knew?), is a friend to all creatures, and when he had to have one of his trees trimmed of all branches, he built a small condo for the squirrels in his backyard tree.

"Gotta take of Sparky." He said.

The one eyed squirrel that ate all of our strawberries? That was Pirate Sparky, just ask Joe.

Well, one day one of the neighborhood dogs was on the loose, and had himself a good dog day when it came to squirrel catching, or thought he had, until Joe chased him away with a broom yelling, "Let go of my Sparky!!!" over, and over.

Good times, good times. You really want a good laugh? Be sitting in your living room, and overhear Joe yelling, "Let go of my Sparky!" at the top of his lungs.

Cricket said...

Shimp - No squirrels were harmed (by me, anyway) in the writing of this post.

Suldog said...

I am a big fan of squirrels. You're right; they're at least as entertaining as anything you can see on TV. I'll watch them scooting around in my backyard, and if it's, say, Thanksgiving, and I have some nuts in the house (real ones, not my relatives) I'll go out the backdoor and toss a few handfuls for them to enjoy.

My Uncle Rick recently raised a baby squirrel that he found abandoned in his yard. Named him Sparky, as a matter of fact. Perhaps that's the equivalent of Fido for squirrels. Anyway, after Sparky was full-grown, Uncle Rick released him back into the wild, but he still comes back to My Uncle's window every couple of weeks to say "Hi!"

Best laugh of my day thus far: "One of them gave me the finger."

lime said...

oh i have indeed been amused! we live on an acre of oak trees so we have no dearth of squirrels. loved your tales.

oh and we've shot and eaten our fair share of them as well.

Hilary said...

You know I love squirrels and despite the demise of a couple of them in your story, I was indeed very amused.

Frank's sister rehabilitates squirrels (along with her raccoons). They're very sweet little creatures. But messy. Somewhere I have photos of the lot of them (about 7) being bathed after just about swimming in their oatmeal and peanut butter.

Just yesterday, I walked around a park where the squirrels are more used to people feeding them. I had a pocket full of peanuts and they knew it. Each time I stopped to photograph something, one or two of them would climb my leg. Bold little things.. but adorable.

Love the photo of the wee one all tucked in. It's evokes quite the "awwww". :)

Andy said...


Cricket, I truly am laughing out loud!

Man, I have posted squirrel stories in the past, but nothing funny. They were all posted with true contempt, and hatred for the tree rats. The gardens destroyed, the ferns that become potted pecan trees...and even a guest post once about how squirrels turned an otherwise civilized human into a gun owner, and squirrel-killin' machine!

When I was a kid my Dad took us boys squirrel hunting. And, my great grandmother actually cooked the things...Squirrel Dumplings. I could never bring myself to give it a try.

Squirrel Awareness Month. Even though I despise the little rascals, this is one of my favorite .gif files.

CiCi said...

Since we moved to Nebraska we have had the best time watching the squirrels every day. Hubby ties a cob of corn to the patio table and hangs it down for them to reach. We have been enjoying them so much. This is a great post. We have seen our share of the squished squirrels here too. That is part of life. We saw a raccoon today and also skunk.

Bossy Betty said...

OH MY! WHo knew? Thanks for the tails/tales!

Cricket said...

Lime - I'd trust your squirrels before I'd ever eat mine. Roast Medallion of Squirrel with a light Diesel-Garlic Infusion? ? No, thanks.

Andy - Glad you enjoyed these. I have mixed feelings about the squirrels. Outside, they're "good squirrels." Come in the house? All bets are off. They don't really seem to eat my plants, but maybe they just don't like what I have.

Funny gif. My computer's a bit slow with those. Let me just say I had a totally different idea of where that was going at first.

I've never had the chance to try eating one, though I probably would. Not these, though. I'd prefer a more country squirrel, I think. See above.

Sul and Shimp - "Sparky," indeed. ZISH!

Joanna Jenkins said...

OMG-- I know I shouldn't but that first pic had me laughing out loud.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Porcupine, you've made me even more aware of those furry little rodents.

The same ones that made me purchase an expensive squirrel proof birdfeeder so my feathered friends can eat in peace. The same ones that made me move the plastic container of birdfood inside because the squirrels totally ate the lid to get in and help themselves. The same ones that occasionally get into the basement, die a slow death, and make me have to go retrieve them wearing a biohazard suit. (sigh)

Cricket said...

Hi Jane -

I'll place you and Andy squarely in the "tree-rat" column, then.

Buck said...

Squirrel Fail Numbers 4-12 (and there were prolly MANY more): Those unfortunate T.rats that wandered too close to my mixed breed terrier, FiFi La Bonne... who proudly used to bring The Second Mrs. Pennington and I trophies. Which we most certainly could have done without.

I'm another addition to the Tree Rat category.

BTW... the graphic at the end of your post was a PERFECT close!

Cheryl Kohan said...

All incredibly funny but Squirrel Fail #2 was laugh out loud funny! Great post. I am definitely Squirrel Aware, now. :-)

Brian Miller said...

haha. i love playful...big smiles. love the undercover squirrel...

Sandra said...

This post is great. I was especially entranced by the roadkill painted over by the painter of road lines. Great stories well told. :)