“Trick or treat?” is essentially what this little squirrel is saying as it stares in my sliding glass door. That’s my agreement with the squirrels: I give them treats and they don’t get up to too many naughty tricks in my yard.
We’re still negotiating some of the details. For example, I say getting into the new feeder I bought for the chickadees is a naughty trick and a couple of the smaller squirrels say it is business as usual.
I put out squirrel food (a mix of corn, black oil sunflower seeds and some little grain-like things) a couple of times a day. The real treats are peanuts. A few weeks ago, I started handing them out to the squirrels that were brave enough to take one out of my hand. Within a few days, they were all brave enough, even the babies.
While I hand most of the peanuts out during the late afternoon feeding frenzy, little trick or treaters appear on and off all day long. Some stand outside the door and stare in, looking for me, like the one in the first photo. Others stand on the table or balance on the back of one of the chairs.
They have not forgotten how to forage. I see them digging in the leaves and eating seeds off the trees all of the time.
I’m pretty sure that at least one of them has learned to knock though. Several times I’ve heard what sounded like a bird hitting the window but when I go out to look there’s just a squirrel waiting for the door to open.
Some of the squirrels are still nervous about getting close enough to take a peanut out of my hand. They pin their ears flat, squint their eyes and bring their tail up over their back like an umbrella. I had Daniel hand out a peanut so I could take a photo. This is one of the nervous ones.
It’s the ones that seem completely comfortable that I have to watch out for! Shorty will sometimes grab hold of our fingers with his claws and Thumper jumped onto my knee while I was watching another squirrel out in the yard.
Getting so close to these little trick or treaters, I’m able to see their distinguishing features and I’ve come up with names for most of them.
There’s my longtime favorite, Shorty, with the short tail.
He’s not really as chubby as he appears here, although he is one of the ones that is bulking up for the winter.
Then, there’s Thumper, my other favorite. She has a tail almost as short as a rabbit’s. She’s also a mother squirrel, so I often call her Mama Thumper, which Don says is the most ridiculous name I’ve come up with yet. And he laughs at most of them.
There’s a Short Ear (has one short ear), a Chunk (missing a chunk of his ear), a Shortina (a female with a tail the length of Shorty’s), an Arnold 2 (built like Arnold Schwarzenegger), a Mangy 1 and Mangy 2 (have some patches of shorter hair), at least two Fluffys (have super fluffy tails), Baby George and another baby that I just call Baby Squirrel (because I forgot what I named it) and at least five others that don’t have any distinguishable markings or disabilities. I just greet them with, “hi Little Friend!” Or, “what’s your name?”
I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy but I don’t care. Playing the trick or treat game with squirrels is fun!