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Squirrel Swindle

My neighborhood has lots of squirrels. I sometimes feed them. I’ve noticed they practice an effective scam to ensure that they get more nuts. Here’s how it works.

1. Stand on my lawn looking cute and hungry.

2. Look up attentively as Don throws an almond or peanut to within six inches of your big, hairy squirrel feet.

3. Look left and right and up and down as though searching for the nut, but never look directly at the nut or walk toward it. Then look up and make eye contact with Don. Wait.

Squirrel

4. When Don throws a second nut equally close, repeat the fraud. If possible, shrug your little squirrel shoulders to indicate that you are baffled about where all the nuts are going. Look pathetic and clueless.

5. Continue this swindle until Don stops throwing treats. Then take your sweet time eating this bounty of nuts...relaxed and confident in the knowledge that you have tricked Don into sharing more nuts than he would have if you revealed yourself to be a capable squirrel behaving in a professional manner.

6. When all the nuts are gone, raid the bird feeder.

********
What are the critters up to in your neighborhood?

Don—Pittsburgh, February 7, 2020

42 Responses

Cindy

February 24, 2020

I rarely see see any squirrels where I live🙁. Oh where oh where have squirrels gone 🎵🎶

GaBriella

February 24, 2020

The squirrels in my neighborhood hang out in the oak trees that lean over a cemetery. It’s quite delightful to see them protect the peaceful sleepers… and crack their nuts and food particles on the tops of the tombs and headstones. It’s a win-win.

Patti

February 10, 2020

We live in Spillimacheen British Columbia Canada on 5 acres in the forest.

Our squirrels seemingly have jungle militia training of a sort and throw sh*t at us from the tall pines and birch if we get too close, too quietly. We are fortunate to have a Spitz-Australian Shepherd whose first job in the morning is to run to the near forest and ‘get them organized’ or alert them that there’ll be trouble if any of that nonsense happens on her watch.

We are only really safe from a pelting in that bit of the forest. Otherwise, all bets are lot and, of course, one looks like a lunatic for screaming at the treetops in gum boots when the air assault inevitably happens. I think we must be the adorable ones to them. I swear they snicker at us.

Pamela Holt

February 10, 2020

I wish you would put this squirrel design on a coffee cup/ mug as I have a friend to would love that .

John Loy

February 09, 2020

A few years ago, we had a squirrel with an attitude; therefore, we named him Attitude. He had no fear of us. One day, he was in one of the bird feeders, gathering up as many sunflower seeds as possible. I had been sweeping the walk, so still having the broom in my hand, I decided to get him out of the feeder. I started flipping his tail with the broom handle, to no avail. Finally, I poked Attitude in the backside, that got his attention…and mine. He jumped to the ground, performing a 180 on mid-air. When he hit the ground on all fours, he bared his teeth, as if to say, you want a piece of me? I really miss that little character!
At a different time, a squirrel was in a nearby tree when it saw me with a pail of sunflower seeds heading to the squirrel feeder (yes, we’ve built squirrel feeders for the little critters). That squirrel ran down the tree, raced me to the feeder, climbed up on top, and waited for me to put out the sunflower seeds.
Who has trained who?
Never try to outsmart squirrels, because you will loose!

Karen

February 09, 2020

Since the iguana invasion our backyard rarely has squirrels. The hated reptiles have eaten every flowering and tender plant. To our horror a six footer chewed its way into our attic to escape a cold spell. He was was difficult to evict. We can’t forget to watch out for the hibernating ones falling from trees! The Horror!

Joan

February 08, 2020

We enclosed our back deck to make a catio for our resident Maine Coons. Just outside the catio is the North wall of our fence (aka Squirrel super highway) and a tree. There are two channels of cat TV on the tree: one is a hummingbird feeder for the resident Anna’s hummingbirds and the other is a “squirrel proof” bird feeder containing seed. Last week, I caught a squirrel (cue theme from Mission Impossible) suspended upside down from a branch and chugging the hummingbird nectar. His accomplice went for the bird seed on the ground. The female Anna’s Luftwaffe launched an aerial assault on the nectar thief, to no avail. Our female cat eventually broke up the ruckus and carried on with her nap. This is far more entertaining than anything on TV.

Linda Oistad

February 08, 2020

Squirrels are active annually out here on the Texas prairie. Twice in the last four years they have eaten into the gable over our front door and chewed up our attic and the panels under the eaves outside. Very destructive. A house in our neighborhood burned down after squirrels chewed through electrical wire in the attic and started a fire. I do not feed them. I shout at them like a madwoman.
My husband has devised a system I do not want to know about to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder.
Although I no longer love squirrels, I do love your drawing and hope you add squirrels to your Calamityware. I would definitely buy items with gnawing squirrel villains in them!
Also, I am enjoying your sketchbooks. The paper is perfect for all the media I use. And they fit nicely into my bag.
Be well.

Mary

February 08, 2020

BadBandana 7: Squirrel swindle

Mary

February 08, 2020

BadBandana 7: Squirrel swindle

Valerie

February 08, 2020

Absolutely love squirrels 🐿 ! Absolutely love calamityware! A marriage of these two would be delightful!

Liz Powell

February 07, 2020

My (then) 7 year old grand daughter was learning to ride a Two Wheeler bike. Her mother took her out on the walking/cycling trails through a nearby forested area of parkland. GD saw many squirrels and came home to tell the tale of how the "KING OF THE SQUIRRELS; named Peter, was to be seen out there, and because he was so concerned for all his fellow forest critters he towed a TANK behind him as he went through the woods and up into the trees. This TANK contained 32 small animals. " We then discovered that she meant an Aquarium type tank, not an Army Tank, so the critters could see out, and that it had both wheels and wings, enabling it to fly between trees as well as run on the paths. Two years later King Peter is still a member of our family!

Silke Force

February 07, 2020

My parents’ suburban backyard boasted a lively young pear tree. But after two summers of having every. Single. Pear. Spoiled by a solitary squirrel sized bite, Dad fought back. He bought a beebee gun and took up a post on the deck. The idea was not to shoot the little rats but to give them enough if a scare that they’d stay away. One afternoon, while the sprinkler refreshed the garden, Dad surprised himself by hitting a furry-pawed raider square on one rear cheek. With a great deal of leaf rustling, the aggrieved rodent ran down the trunk and across the lawn. He parked the wounded hindquarter over the sprinkler to cool down the abrasion.
They’re so much smarter than we’d ever have guessed.

carolyn

February 07, 2020

We have a hazelnut tree that was planted by a squirrel probably close to 15 years ago. It produces every year — but we get no hazelnuts. The squirrels get All the hazelnuts.

Kate

February 07, 2020

I don’t hate squirrels but I do know that they are really just rats in cute outfits. 😏

Janet

February 07, 2020

It is my understanding that bird feeders were originally invented as squirrel exercise equipment.

After having more than one feeder knocked down, raided, or chewed apart, I started feeding the birds from a flat souffle pan on the deck. (easy to fill, easier to be emptied.) One snowy day, I set the pan up on the seat of the porch swing. The swing had a canopy which helped pan from being covered with snow.

The first thing to spot the pan of seed was a pair of crows. They came in with a flurry and made a ruckus while tossing seed everywhere. (Very few birds or squirrels will mess with crows.) Some of the seed that was flung around landed beneath the swing where I was storing my deck umbrella.

Next, a pair of squirrels arrived. One perched in the center of the pan, stuffing herself. Not to outdone, the other, smaller squirrel when under the swing to pick at the cast off seed. That spring, after the snow melted away I set up my umbrella to find it was laced through with holes – each with chew marks around its edge.

We still feed the crows and the squirrels, but now we store our umbrella inside.

Jan

February 07, 2020

I don’t mind the squirrels eating the birdseed, but they have eaten the wiring for every set of deck lights I have installed for the last 10 years. # % & cute squirrels!

Karen

February 07, 2020

My husband has an ongoing war with the squirrels in our neighborhood because they get in out large tree and strip off bark from the branches. He has wrapped the trunk with metal flashing to keep the little critters from climbing, but now they jump from the neighbor’s garage roof. He has cut so many “climbable” branches from the tree that soon we will not have any left at all! Ykes! The squirrels are winning I’m afraid.

Susan Loveland

February 07, 2020

I would love to see squirrels appear on plates. My father called every squirrel he saw “Walter”. (His parent’s started it.) Squirrels have always been a favorite of mine. They can eat as much birdseed as they want. It’s fun having them around.

G S

February 07, 2020

I put out yummy nuts and fruits for the squirrels so they would stop eating my plants. Now they get nuts, fruits, and plants. Sneaky… (Love your stuff!)

Vali Swindle Bishop

February 07, 2020

My maiden name is Swindle…and when I was a little girl…we had a pet squirrel named Squeeky! He had fallen out of a tree as a tiny baby during a hurricane…so we fed him and raised him. When I saw the title Squirrel Swindle…it made me remember my sweet little pet squirrel! Thanks so much!!!

Katrina in NH

February 07, 2020

Don, perhaps you could design an official Squirrel Patrol shirt — a badge on the front, warning off the critters, and a squirrel on the other side, laughing behind our backs as it upends a tube feeder full of seeds into its mouth…

We don’t have feeders in our yard, because they attract not just squirrels but black bears, here in NH — and with climate change bringing us such mild Winters of late, the bears aren’t hibernating as long or as deeply as they should, to give us a “safe for feeders” window. (Squirrels will devour feeders’ contents, but bears will destroy the feeders themselves, in quest of easy food. I don’t mind buying extra seed, but I draw the line at having to buy fresh hardware on a regular basis.)

What we do have is an official Yard Chipmunk. It lives in a hole in one of the garden beds smack in front of our front porch, and happily scampers around the yard and surrounding trees to feed. So far, we haven’t planted much in the way of bulbs and flowers that it likes to chomp on, so I’ve been content to play host — and have even been known to leave out treats now and again, at the entrance to its lair. Unfortunately, for unrelated reasons, we need to tear up that garden bed — should have done it last Fall, but I didn’t have the heart to turn Li’l Chipper out into the cold on the cusp of Winter. As soon as the ground thaws in the Spring, though, I’m going to be feeling mighty guilty, as I pick up the shovel to start digging…

Julie A Burkhart

February 07, 2020

WANT SQUIRREL PRODUCTS! We love our calamity tea cups! Please tell me you are making Squirrel Swindle into a series of something for my kitchen! A nut bowl, perhaps? A cookie jar? I want to see more swindling! Sneaky snacky squirrel wear! Bring it on!

Audrey

February 07, 2020

My sister swears that squirrels are rats with better outfits. Based on the behavior Don describes, I must concur.

DrGuano

February 07, 2020

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/510/fiasco/act-three-0

Beckee

February 07, 2020

My husband trained some squirrels with peanuts one year. He would open the front door and shake the peanuts. The squirrels would slowly crawl up the sidewalk and stop at a safe distance and pull their “I’m so cute and hungry” stance. He would then point to a rock in our yard and say, “go to your rock” and then toss the peanuts to the rock. They would scurry to the rock and scarf down the peanuts. He had them so well trained that they crept closer and closer to him and as soon as he said, “go to your rock”, off they went. It was fun and cute to watch until one day…….he opened the front door and a squirrel was waiting for him right at the edge of the open door. They almost got away with their training of my husband!

Christine

February 07, 2020

I think we need a Calamity Ware Squirrel Nut Bowl. :-)

Virginia

February 07, 2020

Our neighbors down the street had so much trouble with squirrels stealing the bird seed that they suspended the bird feeder from a very long high wire, the GREASED the wire. It was hilarious watching the squirrels trying to get to it. They’d shoot down the wire then keep on going all the way to the other side. It worked but that wire had to be greased once a week 😂

Michael Yolch

February 07, 2020

ALSO…I learned a fascinating thing about Blue Jays. When eating peanuts in the shell, you’ll notice that they’ll pick up several of them before choosing which one they want. They always choose the heaviest one – because they know it has the most nuts in it. Crafty critters.

Cathy Brownstone

February 07, 2020

I started feeding an adorably cheeky squirrel I named Mr. Chubbs. I left various kinds of peanuts, monkey bars, and other corn on the cob outside for him.
While away for a week, no one in my home thought to leave food out for him and upon arriving home, he was gone.
To my delight and surprise, Mr. Chubbs returned a few months ago. He sometimes has a few squirrel pals to dine with but his antics keep my 2 Maine Coon cats amused as they watch Mr. Chubbs scramble down the garage roof, run down the branches of the bushes, and grab some peanuts. Mr. Chubbs is a delightful little squirrel 🐿 and I’m attached to him. 🐾

Gretl

February 07, 2020

I tried the hot pepper-soaked sunflower seeds with the same result. The squirrels adored the heat; imagine sombreros and mariachi music. Then I spent big stupid money on a bird feeder that actually works. It spins squirrels off the feeder. Hilarious. They learn very quickly but one small red squirrel has mastered the art of confounding the mechanism by complicated gyrations resulting in his tucking his little body between the spinning perch and the seed tube. He wins.

Carolyn

February 07, 2020

You must have relatives of the squirrel family we have here in Seattle! They run the same scam.

Michael Yolch

February 07, 2020

When I was a teenager, my father built a wood shop onto our home. We built hundreds of birdhouses and bathouses and sold them like hotcakes. At its peak, we kept 36 birdhouses in our 1.5 acre yard. Yes, a little over the top. We kept feed in 55 gallon barrels. Fast forward 35 years later, and my neighbor rekindled my love for birds after he put up several feeders in his yard.

Well, I’m the kind of guy that goes all in on everything, which often initiates the rolling process of my wife’s eyeballs. I went out and spent $600 on houses, feeders, corn, nuts in a shell, those whacky cylinders that are form-packed with fruit, nuts, and worms, suet feeders, black oil sunflower seeds, thistle, and galvanized buckets to contain it all.

Within the first 2 weeks, my yard became a full-blown aviary…and the word of this massive buffet spread like wildfire throughout the squirrel community. Now, just 2 months later, the average count of squirrels all feeding at the same time is 12, and the number of birds is uncountable.

This morning, my wife asked if she needed to enforce a “bird budget.” Fair enough question considering that the flock of Blue Jays and squirrels devour over 100 pounds of peanuts per month alone. Please send help…or donations!

marlene

February 07, 2020

our squirrels steal the blue jays’ peanuts. one of them have decided that they love our house so much that they have made it their home. in our wall. somehow they get in and out and seem to be moving tiny squirrel furniture around in the evening inside said wall. they do not pay rent either.

Marcy

February 07, 2020

My friend is so frustrated with the squirrels that steal the peaches fro, his tree.. Last year he covered the tree with straight pins embedded in tinfoil. The year before he surrounded the trunk with a giant aluminum belt that he kept greased! Nothing works!

Joan B

February 07, 2020

One summer, I invested in a bird seed that was covered with hot pepper oil—supposedly utter anathema to squirrels, and fine with the birds. The first few bags worked really well; the squirrels would hop back and forth trying to get the hot pepper off their paws. Just as I got comfortable with the idea that I would no longer have to fill the bird feeders daily, the “hot meats” stopped working. I don’t know if it was a new breed of squirrel or a bad bag of seed, but the squirrels were lining up for it. I could almost hear them saying, “Oh boy, SPICY FOOD!!!! Let me at it.” I went with squirrel-proof feeders thereafter.

Travis

February 07, 2020

Damn Squirrels! But they’re kinda cute. Do you have a squirrel mayhem Calamity Mug or something? I have a neighbor we all call Squirrel Steve who is insane with the squirrels. He lives on hotdogs and cheap cheeseburgers but buys $40 worth of Peanuts a week from Costco for his furry friends. Nuts, literally.
I could get you some really amazing UGC footage for this creature…who feeds the creatures for your next post.
Love your stuff, haven’t ordered yet but I’m close.

Travis @ Sharp Commerce

JAMIE MAYER HOLLENSBE

February 07, 2020

We have an uneasy truce with our local squirrels. My husband feeds them critter chow, then they raid the bird feeders, I yell and shake my fists at them, and they laugh in squirrel. But I am upping my game-they ate the bulbs I planted last fall! So now I yell, shake my fists, and curse. They still laugh. Welp, there ya go.

JayDub

February 07, 2020

I live in an oak hickory forest with an abundance of nuts, so the squirrels are unimpressed by nuts. They like snacking on the wires of my vehicles for a change of diet.

J J Bosley

February 07, 2020

On Wednesday, I noticed a hawk in your tree next to the bird feeder. I suspect the hawk was looking for one of those tasty, well fed squirrels! Word gets around the natural neighborhood residents.

Barb

February 07, 2020

I have lots of squirrels in my neighborhood as well. They eat what I scatter on the ground for them (and the larger birds) and then they too raid my birdfeeders!! They are such genius at hanging upside down to eat!

Sandra M Spaeth

February 07, 2020

Genius!

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