Back Around the House II: Wild pets in the backyard


A few years ago I told you about a “wild” pet we had in the backyard. It was a squirrel we named Charlie.

After Bill put peanuts by the tree in the backyard for him for awhile, Charlie would appear on the sidewalk by the front door when the peanuts were not there and seemed to demand a refill.

When we put out a humming bird feeder filled with sugar water, Charlie accepted it as his private bar. After a few slugs he became very mellow and would even pose for pictures.

We also had a birdfeeder hanging from the tree, but the birds never bothered Charlie, and he seemed to prefer peanuts to birdseed, so he didn’t bother them. However when we played with the grandkids under the trees, Charlie would throw peanut shells at them. I think he was jealous.

Charlie came back each spring for a couple of years, but then he disappeared. We put peanuts out for other squirrels, but they weren’t interested in a personal relationship with us.

This spring another Charlie-like squirrel appeared in the backyard. I bought more peanuts, and Bill put them under the tree. At first the squirrel, whom we named Nuts, shared the bounty with some of his squirrelly friends when they came around.

In no time at all Nuts learned to come to the front sidewalk when Bill was on the porch and chatter out a demand for more peanuts when he needed them.

Bill would say, “If you want more nuts go out back and I’ll get them.”

The squirrel would race to the backyard, climb the tree, and wait for Bill to deliver the peanuts. It was like having Charlie back again.

Then one day we were watching Nuts enjoying himself. Apparently he wasn’t hungry, so he would pick up a peanut, run down the backyard and bury the nut in the ground. Storage for later we thought. But, as soon as Nuts ran back for another peanut, a blue jay would grab the hidden nut and fly off with it. This happened over and over until the peanuts were all gone.

We don’t know if Nuts figured out the blue jays were stealing the peanuts, or if he just got tired of hiding them in the hard dirt in the backyard. But one day Bill was watching, and Nuts grabbed a peanut and headed for the front of the house.

Bill went through the house, looked out the front door, and there was Nuts burying the nut in the soft dirt in the flower boxes. This explained why the red geranium closest to the house was dying. It also explained why two of the impatiens close by weren’t doing very well.

Now we had to decide how to discourage Nuts from planting peanuts among the flowers out front.

I have a friend who had a problem with rabbits eating her flowers earlier this year. She tried a lot of different solutions offered by friends. She planted plants rabbits weren’t supposed to like. They ate them. They even ate her rose bushes. She put different powders and liquids down which were supposed to discourage the bunnies. They digested those and wanted more.

Finally she took to running into her backyard making a lot of noise whenever she saw the rabbits dining on her plants. It didn’t even slow them down. She was determined, but finally gave up one morning when she realized she was running though her backyard in her nightgown shouting at the rabbits. The last time I talked to her she said, “Lawns are nice. Who needs flowers?”

Chasing and yelling at Nuts is not an option. When he sees us coming he just climbs a tree and watches us, hoping for more peanuts. And there is no way I can run through the front yard in my nightgown yelling at him. We live on a very busy street. I’d probably cause an accident while the squirrel buried his peanuts in our flowers.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Aug. 1, 2001.

By Kathleen Floyd

Back Around the House II

Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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