Angry Squirrel Lunges at Cancer Patient
Animals often outsmart us, but we eventually enjoy a bit of harmless revenge.
Recall that my husband-who-happens-to-have-cancer became a backyard bird enthusiast this year. He is passionate about his hobby and can be found throughout the day and evening on the back deck, filling and rearranging multiple feeders. Lewis tends assorted feeders, each containing seeds or mixes to attract certain birds. And after recently receiving a bird identification book as a gift, he carefully makes notes when a new type of bird is spotted at one of the feeders.
Backyard birders face a common nemesis from the Family Sciuridae; otherwise known as those cute and pesky tree rodents we call squirrels. We love watching our squirrels scamper throughout the hardwoods in our back yard. But as soon as we began hanging birdfeeders, the squirrels set into motion the most fiendish plots to raid our seeds. Oh, but they are cunning connivers with amazing acrobatic skills!
Lewis tried all the usual solutions: squirrel-proof poles, baffles, high-tech spring-loaded feeders – all designed to deter the smartest of tree squirrels. And all to no avail. Our menacing marauders defied gravity and logic and ransacked every single feeder in our yard. Lewis would storm out to the back deck several times a day to scare them off, but within five minutes of being interrupted, the band of squirrels was back in all their gluttony. And soon, Lewis’ appearance on the deck no longer fazed the rascals. They would simply stare at my husband, spitting out cheeks full of seed husks. Occasionally, a squirrel would get so full that it would simply lie down for several minutes on the deck rail, stretched flat on its belly, arms and legs splayed and unable to move.
So we enacted Plan B. On the other side of the yard from the bird feeders, we set out ground feeders with corn and nuts for the squirrels. For two or three days, our segregation strategy worked. The squirrels were content to gorge themselves on the easily-accessible treats.
But critter justice prevailed. Deer began to jump our back yard fence to eat the contents of the ground feeders. They fed slowly and daintily, as deer do. They fed while completely ignoring Lewis standing at the deck watching them all the while. In the meantime, the squirrels shrugged their shoulders and returned to the bird feeders, yielding their ground territory to the deer.
My poor husband came close to abandoning his backyard birding. This broke my heart because his hobby has brought him so much joy in this difficult time of his life. So once again, we ventured to our favorite store, Wild Birds Unlimited, where we found Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce. The sauce is heavily laced with chili pepper that the birds don’t mind. But the squirrels can sure taste the heat, and after one mouthful of seeds soaked in the sauce, a shocked squirrel can be found leaping through the trees warning the other tree rats to stay clear of the fire.
With an evil scientist laugh, Lewis mixed the sauce into his container of bird seed, filled his bird feeders, and sat back to watch the show. It didn’t take long for the squirrels to find the food and my husband’s little surprise. Throughout the morning, the deck feeders were visited by several unsuspecting squirrels that, upon tasting the hot seeds, quickly backed up and ran off.
Except for one.
A large squirrel we call “Red Tail” took offense at our action. After tasting the heat at a feeder near our deck, Red Tail leapt to the top deck rail and stood his ground. He slowly turned his head toward the house, where he could see Lewis standing inside at the window. They locked eyes and a stare-down commenced.
Suddenly, Red Tail turned his body to the window, crouched low, and then dove down to the deck floor. He ran full tilt across the floor toward the window and then he pounced. I'm here to tell you that he jumped onto the screen, latching on with the claws of both arms and both legs. And his eyes stayed locked on Lewis’ the entire time.
Red Tail was one ticked off squirrel.
The next day, two additional squirrels made running jumps and latched on to other window screens bordering our deck. Though they pounced with less intensity than Red Tail, their message was still clear:
Give us back the ground feeders or the screens will be rendered useless, Chemo Man!
Remember the Chinese Proverb? “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Well, our squirrels have taught us a different lesson. “Give a critter a meal and he will pretend he doesn’t know how to feed himself.”
That said, the ground feeders are back in place and chock full of corn and nuts. And the tree rats must have similarly blackmailed the deer, because we've only spotted young does and bucks outside the fence since the day that Red Tail lunged at Lewis.
This is no tall tale, my friends. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
(To my fellow animal advocates: Do not fret about our use of the squirrel deterrent. The seed sauce is organic and harmless to the little tree rats and other critters.)