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Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:44 PM

When Squirrels Were One of America's Most Popular Pets

Well, I may be going nuts here, but the tree rats were actually popular pets once? That is some Americana that i haven't come across before. Who knew?

I did know a lady who had rescued a couple babies and raised them, but they acted rather wild.



In 1722, a pet squirrel named Mungo passed away. It was a tragedy: Mungo escaped its confines and met its fate at the teeth of a dog. Benjamin Franklin, friend of the owner, immortalized the squirrel with a tribute.

“Few squirrels were better accomplished, for he had a good education, had traveled far, and seen much of the world.” Franklin wrote, adding, “Thou art fallen by the fangs of wanton, cruel Ranger!”

Mourning a squirrel’s death wasn’t as uncommon as you might think when Franklin wrote Mungo’s eulogy; in the 18th- and 19th centuries, squirrels were fixtures in American homes, especially for children. While colonial Americans kept many types of wild animals as pets, squirrels “were the most popular,” according to Katherine Grier’s Pets in America, being relatively easy to keep.

By the 1700s, a golden era of squirrel ownership was in full swing. Squirrels were sold in markets and found in the homes of wealthy urban families, and portraits of well-to-do children holding a reserved, polite upper-class squirrel attached to a gold chain leash were proudly displayed (some of which are currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Most pet squirrels were American Grey Squirrels, though Red Squirrels and Flying Squirrels also were around, enchanting the country with their devil-may-care attitudes and fluffy bodies.


https://getpocket.com/explore/item/when-squirrels-were-one-of-america-s-most-popular-pets

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Reply When Squirrels Were One of America's Most Popular Pets (Original post)
Newest Reality Friday OP
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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:49 PM

1. Rats with furry tails

They torment my dogs non-stop. Ultimate outrage were two fornicating on my dogs' Agility A-Frame. My daughter was not pleased.

I did eat them growing up in West Virginia.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:52 PM

4. Hehehehe!

That was a coffee sprayer.


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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 02:19 AM

66. No Kidding!!! Which part: the Fornicating or the Eating?...nt

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #66)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 12:08 PM

75. Ehem...

The fornicating.

My Grandpa used to tell me about hunting squirrels and making squirrel stew in rural Minnesota.

My theory is that people have eaten anything that moves and doesn't kill them first...of course insects, too.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:50 PM

2. I adore squirrels! We have a feeder for them, which the birds share.

I have semi-tamed a few of them. Such cute little critters!

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Response to MoonRiver (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:25 PM

41. They are fun to watch, but I keep my distance.

They can climb plaster walls and bite into really hard objects. I don't want to be bitten or clawed by one.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #41)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 08:59 AM

72. A friend of mine was bitten by one he was trying to feed a treat to!

Really pissed him off. There he was trying to give the little guy a treat and bam, no appreciation!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:50 PM

3. Squirrels are adorable. I would consider one as a pet if they were legal and not too difficult.

Bob Ross was on to something.

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Response to BusyBeingBest (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:58 PM

8. You can keep them outside


They are easy to bribe.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:04 PM

11. I do unintentionally bribe them, I have

a feeder set up for neighborhood quail, and a squirrel and some rabbits duke it out for the sunflower seeds. I think that's where I'll leave the relationship for now.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:53 PM

5. Not too fond of them. They try to eat the bird seed, so

We have to use expensive birdfeeders that keep the squirrels off the feeders.

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:04 PM

13. I am constantly having to chase birds away from my squirrel feeder

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:54 PM

24. Same here! ...

Well, no, not really. But I love squirrels! I have way more chipmunks and unfortunately an occasional whistlepig... but i planted hazelnuts and other nut trees just for the squirrels. Hopefully I will see more of them in the future...

Cheers!

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 08:19 AM

69. That's adorable. nt

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:29 PM

42. Just grease the pole of the feeder.

You can use Vaseline or some other thick grease that won't absorb into the pole. Make sure that your pole is not made of plastic, their claws can dig into that.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #42)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:16 PM

51. Not on poles, but strung between trees.

Squirrels will leap from trees to feeders, so a greased pole won't stop them in my backyard.

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #51)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:20 PM

55. Yes, I understand now. nt

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #42)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:19 PM

53. They'll think they're at Mardi Gras!!!



(Bourbon Street establishments use it to keep drunk party goers from climbing the poles for a better vantage point...., the things those straight boys will do to see tits... )

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Response to not_the_one (Reply #53)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:22 PM

56. It would be fun to watch a good ole boy try to climb a greased pole.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:54 PM

6. My grandfather had a pet squirrel.

I love the little things. I feed them here at my house, and have had some cute encounters with them over the years.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 04:55 PM

7. Very interesting. Have always loved squirrels.

Thanks Newest Reality!

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Response to democratisphere (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:13 PM

16. I am glad you enjoyed it.

It is a fun, historical fact.

I shall think of squirrels a bit differently from now on.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:18 PM

20. Totally different view.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:00 PM

9. I had one as a youngster

He was the best, most fun pet I ever had.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:02 PM

10. I used to enjoy growing tomatoes in my back yard.



My neighbor started feeding squirrels morning and evening. They must have come from miles around. Some times I would see as many as eight at a time. They couldn't resist my tomatoes. They would take one bite out of one just as it was starting to turn ripe just to see what it would taste like and then it was ruined. I gave up on trying.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:04 PM

12. Consarned rodents who dig up my yard

dig up my potted plants to bury their nuts, help themselves to my fruit trees (I don't grudge them a few pieces of fruit - it's the half-eaten avocados and oranges they're currently leaving all over the place that irritate me), and generally act as pests. They also carry some interesting diseases around here, including plague. Hate them, but California Grey squirrels are protected.

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Response to Retrograde (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:14 PM

17. That's for sure...

If they are going to leave a mess and not clean up after themselves, that's just rude!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:09 PM

14. My sister wanted one after seeing this:



She got this:


I had to assemble it for her!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:12 PM

15. I love squirrels too!

I feed them ....and the birds.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:16 PM

18. There was a story from PRX. Squirrels were almost extinct.

Then someone imported a couple to N.Y.C. from upstate N.Y. These created a sensation and were immediately popular with city residents who flocked to see them.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:18 PM

19. I learned something new!

Thanks...

They do terrorize our cats, though... They make the house kitties jealous!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:22 PM

21. I had a friend in high school who had a pet flying squirrel

Its favorite thing was to glide across the room and scurry into a shirt pocket. The time he glided down a girl’s blouse wasn’t received so well, however. She screamed bloody murder, and I got hit HARD for laughing at her plight. It was worth it.

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Response to Cirque du So-What (Reply #21)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:58 PM

60. Don't tell me....the squirrel's name was .... ROCKY !

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:25 PM

22. my dad had a pair as a kid.

him and his brother hunted for food. they shot a squirrel, and realized she was a nursing mom. found the 4 babies, 2 survived, micky and nicky. my dad's buds for years. they rode around in his shirt.

hate the little bastards now anyway.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 05:49 PM

23. "They make crackerjack pets!"



amusedly,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #23)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:35 PM

32. Love that movie! n/t

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:05 PM

25. And in a pinch they make a tasty stew!

Mmmm.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #25)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 07:43 PM

38. I don't do fuzzy stew of any kind.

I was invited to a friend's house for rabbit every spring. I went, but brought a box of fish sticks. Ain't no way you can pass off fish sticks as rabbit! I actually feed squirrels, rabbits, birds, and a resident raccoon. None of those will end up in my cooking!

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Response to pazzyanne (Reply #38)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:58 PM

61. Yeah...

...if you don't want rabbit, go for a wing.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:06 PM

26. Squirrel Poll

It looks like this turned out to be an inadvertent squirrel poll, huh?

Love them, like them, tolerate them, hate them, truly despise them, and I guess the rest out there just don't care. There seem to be some strong opinions of squirrels.

Now, is that out there in the squirrels, or is it about us? Well, we may be the nuts, that's for sure.

Edited to add: Some savor them.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #26)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 03:55 PM

79. I loved a couple of mine.

Last edited Sat Feb 15, 2020, 04:38 PM - Edit history (1)

I've watched & fed them for years (I live in a wooded area).

They differ in intelligence believe it or not. I had 2 very smart kids who'd remind me of their feeding time. If I were too late, one would climb my window screens going from window to window to find me. (He ignored my hubby who never fed him.)

When I'd crack the back door onto my deck, he'd sometimes come in! Then stare a second or two at my Lab, then back out. A hawk got him, picked him off my deck railing. I do miss him.

Sadly there isn't a smart one in the current group of neurotic little idiots.


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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:09 PM

27. My dog loves squirrels

He'll even share his favorite recipes

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:09 PM

28. i witnessed a squirrel war once. true story.

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Response to Kurt V. (Reply #28)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:19 PM

54. The epic Battle for the Avocado Tree

takes place outside my bedroom window most mornings in mating season. It seems to involve a lot of shouting. It does amuse the cat, who sits in the window and watches.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:09 PM

29. Squirrels are an absolute delight!

Such huge personalities in small bodies!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:09 PM

30. They have great parties



I used to live in an apartment and across the street was a house and I could see the squirrels through the window in the attic, bouncing around like ping pong balls, having a blast.

I even had a spirit squirrel visit me. He was very suspicious about what kind of human I was. I lived in Madison, Wisconsin and was always feeding them, so I think he checked me out.

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Response to Beringia (Reply #30)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:37 PM

33. Cool!

Thanks. That's cool.

Was there any squirrel contraband? Hangovers?

The Spirit Squirrel. Sounds like a good title for something or a book/movie/comic.

I get a kick out of watching them chase each other around in spirals on trees, etc. Sometimes it looks like play, other times, territorial disputes.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #33)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 07:31 PM

36. Ya, they have dominance competitions


Maybe it goes to who is the biggest and meanest, who knows. They are all about the same size and strength.

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Response to Beringia (Reply #36)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:40 PM

45. I thought that the chasing was a mating ritual. nt

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #45)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:13 PM

50. I don't know about mating rituals

But I see often when I feed squirrels out my back window with nuts, one of them will stake out the grounds for 10 feet or so, and if any other squirrel comes too close, it will get chased away.

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Response to Beringia (Reply #50)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:19 PM

52. I guess they are territorial. They like walnuts and chocolate.

I see different ones coming alone to eat, but during the times that I have been able to watch, I have not seen two there at the same time. I have one that I call the "post climber", it will grab a couple pieces of chocolate or walnuts, then climb on a fence post to lookout while it eats.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:17 PM

31. Condi loper

Squirrels just want a have fun.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:41 PM

34. Let us not forget...

Their flying cousins:

Rocket J. "Rocky" Squirrel

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 06:51 PM

35. I had a flying squirrel for a pet. He went everywhere with me in my pocket.

I love them

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 07:35 PM

37. Donald Trump Squirrel Feeder

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 07:57 PM

39. This is a true story:

The morning I was driving to catch the ferry to Isle Royale National Park (on the Minnesota side) my hiking buddy spotted a full grown bull moose standing on the left shoulder of the road. I pulled over onto the right shoulder directly across, lowered my wndow, raised my camera -- then the moose bolted back into the woods before I could snap the pic.

Disappointed but exhilarated I pulled back onto the road, and just as I got up to speed a squirrel ran across the road directly in front of me. There was nothing I could do, and the poor little creature was flattened under my wheels.

I turned to my buddy in the passenger seat and in my best imitation of Boris Badenov I exclaimed "Ve got Moose and Squirrel!"

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Response to Martin Eden (Reply #39)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:01 PM

40. Heheheh!

Oh, that was Badenov!

I was wondering if you just pulled that one out of a hat. I must be thinking of fan mail from some flounder.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #40)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:32 PM

43. If I had Mr. Peabody and his Wayback Machine ...

... I could prove my story is not a fractured fairy tale.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:36 PM

44. I love squirrels - fried or with dumplings.

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Response to TomSlick (Reply #44)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:43 PM

46. Maybe you are joking, but in some places, people still eat them. nt

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #46)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:50 PM

47. Not joking.

I live in south Arkansas. I enjoy squirrel hunting and won't shot anything I don't eat.

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Response to TomSlick (Reply #47)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:11 PM

49. I knew people that hunted them when I was a boy.

If you have ever watched the show "Swamp People", there was one scene where two brothers were hunting squirrels.

What is the wild hog situation like in your state? I read that some places are being overran by wild hogs. I have never seen one where I live in Florida, but I also have never lived in a truly rural area either.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #49)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:51 PM

57. I've never seen "Swamp People."

I'm not in the swamps. However, the woods are nearby. Squirrels can be found anywhere there are hickory, oak, or other hardwoods. (They don't like the pine plantations as much.) Squirrel hunting for me is slowly walking through the woods watching for movement in the trees and listening for squirrels barking. Sometimes, I'll just sit and watch a hickory tree or oak with fresh-looking squirrel nests. I have often had deer, turkeys, etc. almost walk up on me while watching for squirrels.

Wild hogs are a real problem - very destructive and prolific breeders. There doesn't seem to be a good solution.

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Response to TomSlick (Reply #57)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:57 PM

59. Wild hogs are smart too. Does Arkansas allow hunting of them year round? nt

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #59)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 12:01 AM

62. Yes. They are not considered game so there is no season.

There is not a lot of hog hunting. Folks seem skeptical of the meat.

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Response to TomSlick (Reply #62)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 01:55 PM

78. Same here in Florida, year round season on private land

I cut the loins/backstraps and hams out of female and younger male hogs we shoot and trap. The older males get a musky odor and taste to them so don’t usually fool with the meat in them.

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Response to TomSlick (Reply #44)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 08:35 AM

71. "Where's Eddie? He usually eats these GD things!"

"Not recently, Clark, he read that squirrels were high in cholesterol."

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 10:08 PM

48. We had one, rescued in the back yard.

He was a lot of fun. When he became full grown we turned him over to a wildlife rehabilitation and she released him into the woods where she lived. He never bit anyone and would jump from person to person and liked to get under our shirts. We all had little scratches. He never bit anyone.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:56 PM

58. My dogs LOVE them!

When they see them, they always run out into the backyard and want to greet them. But alas, the squirrels coyly always seem to run away at the last second leaving my dogs unsure about where they went.

(Actually I think some of them are in the attic.)



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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 12:45 AM

63. Growing up in the 70s and 80s

I had a next-door neighbor who was an older gentleman. He had a black walnut tree in his yard, and before he mowed the yard he would use a scoop tool (a frozen orange juice can on the end of a broomstick) to scoop the nuts up and put them into a bag slung around his shoulder. He trained a squirrel to ride on his shoulder, and he would hand him a nut every now and then as he worked.

It was a small town so we ran him out of it for being a squirrel necromancer. J/K

After my mom retired, she started taming squirrels to the point that they would come in the house, just past the sliding door to the backyard. She would get down on the floor and give them nuts and pet them.

TlalocW

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Response to TlalocW (Reply #63)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 04:32 PM

81. I would have liked your mom.

I have feelings for most all animals - except for poisonous snakes (not all snakes; went out of my way to keep a neighbor from killing a big black snake once. Black snakes keep the poisonous ones out.)

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)


Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 01:23 AM

65. Squirrels carry the plague, here in California.

People are warned never to touch them for this reason.

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Response to Liberty Belle (Reply #65)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 08:08 AM

68. I was taught as a child that they carried rabies.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 06:52 AM

67. Squirrels chew through the insulation of electrical wiring.

If they stay in the woods, I don't mind them a bit. Once they come to the house, garage or bird feeder, they're fair game for me or the little dog who can outrun them. (Big dog has no interest).

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 08:23 AM

70. SQUIRREL!!i!1!i

ARF! ARF! ARF!

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 11:16 AM

73. Born and raised in MO and IL.

I've eaten squirrel a few times.

Went to NYC in 2000. My friends and I were walking in Central Park. A squirrel planted itself in front of me with its front legs spread apart. It was trying to mug me for any food I might have, I think. I stopped and it held its position, wasn't going to move! I said to it, "Where I come from you'd be somebody's supper if you did that!" Got some funny looks from some passersby.

After a few more seconds the squirrel gave up and we continued on our walk.

We have a family of squirrels in the oak tree in the back yard. The cats and I get a kick out of watching them.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 12:01 PM

74. I have been guilty of feeding them nuts in the NYC and Boston parks.

I can't help it, they are so damn cute. But many of them are very bold and have no fear of people. If you have food they will crawl right on you to get to it.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 12:54 PM

76. My squirrel knocked on the window

When she wanted me to come out and play with her. She was a faithful companion for many years.

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Response to Sea Turtle (Reply #76)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 04:12 PM

80. I had one like that.

A couple actually. (Post 79 above.)

The idea of eating them is repulsive to me; it'd be akin to eating a kitty.

I suppose it's easy for people who've never gotten to know an intelligent one to just dismiss them all as evil little varmints.

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Response to Newest Reality (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2020, 01:46 PM

77. Raised in Oklahoma - they taste good!

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