There’s a bold little squirrel coming around mooching for food. It’s the cutest thing, he stands up like a gopher with his little front paws folded in, shivering a little, staring boldly up with his head a little inclined. He took his first nut, in the shell, off my hand and then paused a little distance away, turning it all over in his mouth and smelling it, then, coming to some decision, running away under the fence with it. He was back a little while later, standing up on the patio door looking at me.
It’s so magical to be trusted by a little wild creature! I know he just wants nuts, but it’s a blessing to have a little squirrel put his hand on yours. Such a rare experience, and it’s a mutually pleasing arrangement. I’m probably more thrilled to give him a nut than he is to get it.
Having a moment of intimate contact with a wild being that usually avoids people for its own safety is a special event, like having a bird perch on your finger or a wolf show itself to you.
I’ve never touched a squirrel before, nor seen one so close up. They have luxurious whiskers, like a cat, and soft chins. Their claws are curved and very sharp, but the “palms” of their paws are cool, soft skin like our hands. His tail is quite gauzy instead of thick and plush like they look from a distance.
“My” squirrel has a very soft chin, and he has a lot of control. He rests his paws gently on my hand and pulls himself up, then delicately retrieves the prize with his mouth. Sometimes he smells my fingertips or even more gently nibbles them a little.
My mom would be horrified.
Then he quickly sits on his haunches, if it’s out of the shell, and devours his nut by holding and turning it with his little paws. That’s about as delicate a process as a buzz saw – tiny chips of nut flying like sawdust. He can eat a filbert in about 10 seconds, and then he’s looking for more.
With this facility for trust and looking cute, he’s not a thin squirrel. I tried gently stroking his fuzzy chest while he was busy harvesting. He leapt back when he noticed I was touching him but not before I felt some strong little squirrel muscles under his fur.
He worked up to climbing up my pant leg to reach my hand, and then he squatted on the top of my sock feet to leisurely consume it! A delight.
In a later performance, he was up in a tree and I held a nut up to him. He came down the trunk headfirst, and then, after plucking the nutmeat from my fingertip, stayed where he was, hanging from his back feet!, and used his front paws to turn the nut for consumption as casually as if he were sitting on a couch.
H.W. has taken to just keeping nuts in his pocket. He’s thrilled to report all his squirrel encounters, and has had the squirrel up on his shoulder now.