It’s a Stretch

If nothing else, I’m impressed with his determination.

But balance and agility of this hungry squirrel are admirable, as well.

Squirrels, like many birds, enjoy peanuts and will go to great, stretchy lengths for their fill. I don’t mind their eating the peanuts that I intend for birds, except when one of these rascally rodents plants its fuzzy butt on the feeder and gobbles up the goods. Last summer, I discovered the use of hot pepper sauce to mix into the peanuts. Birds don’t taste pepper sauce, but squirrels steer clear of the fiery mix. The pepper sauce is so hot, that I wear gloves as I mix the blistery stuff with the peanuts and I stand as far away as possible, turning my head and holding my breath I wash out the container that I use for the mixture. The cloud of pepper sauce is remarkably cough-inducing. I can’t even fathom what it would be like if I got some of it in my eyes.

I don’t want to think about that.

During the season of squirrels-loving-peanuts (now until mid-summer) I do toss out handful of peanuts on the ground for the squirrels, I’m not a monster, after all. I like squirrels, I’m (mostly) glad they’re in my garden. I know they benefit from the peanuts, especially the mommy squirrels, and I’m happy for them to nosh the fat-laden protein. That said, I don’t want them bullying the birds at the feeder. So, hot sauce it is.

This acrobatic feat, this stretch for the treat, is the sign I need to rev up the pepper sauce with peanuts concoction. It’s another sign of spring to come.

For other garden stories, check out Anna’s Wednesday Vignette.

29 thoughts on “It’s a Stretch

  1. Squirrels, mischievous, friendly, playful: they make me laugh and I love them. But this gymnast squirrel is eating all the peanuts from the bird feeder and that’s too much. Tina if you think it’s time to use the hot sauce, go ahead. Take good care of yourself and your husband and stay safe. Affectionate hugs with affection. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

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  2. OMG – that’s a hilarious shot. My stepdad once lamented that he wished his grad students had the same tenacity as the squirrels attacking his bird feeders. Your photo is a case in point! LOL!

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  3. Definably a pest. I think I will try the hot peppers. Squirrels eat all the sunflower seeds and or cull them from the feeder and the ground is covered in seed hulls. I am going to invest in a proof feeder that costs over $100 smacker roos. It is guaranteed at Wild birds Unlimited.

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    • Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) sell seeds that have hot pepper in the mix. I purchased some liquid and mix about a teaspoon in a cup of peanuts and that seems to do the trick. For my birthday, my SIL gave me a squirrel proof peanut feeder and it’s working pretty well, too, but I like my original and so do the little warblers. It’s always something…

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  4. What a good stretchy squirrel picture.

    I didn’t know that birds don’t react to hot peppers. A science program on PBS last night explained that the molecules of capsaicin, the ingredient in pepper that produces hotness, act as “keys” that fit into “locks” in human cells and make them react as if they’re getting burned. The program added that in spite of the horrible reaction capsaicin causes in us, there’s no actual damage to our cells.

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    • Interesting, isn’t it? Birds don’t have the receptors. I’m pretty sure some of my cells have been damaged by pepper oils. 🙂

      The liquid I use on the peanuts is so hot that even now (7 months after the last time I donned gloves and mixed some in peanuts) when I touch the gloves, there’s a slight stinging to my hands. I’ve never had salsa that behaved like that. I’m very respectful of this hot sauce.

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  5. My daughter spotted a squirrel playing catch with a feeder when we were out the other day. It stood on a bird bath, eating. Then it bopped the feeder, causing it to swing away, before catching it as it swung within reach to extract a tasty treat. Releasing the feeder to eat and then the game began again.
    (She is currently sewing popcorn in thread to hang for the birds, as we are without squirrel-proof feeder and I don’t think my husband wants to share his hot sauce 😉 )

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  6. Just one of my squirrels has taken a liking to the sunflower chips. If there aren’t any in the platform feeders, he’ll tackle the tube feeder filled with them, reaching into one of the holes with his little paw and scraping them out onto the railing beneath. Clever doesn’t begin to describe them — as well as acrobatic!

    One of the mama squirrels I got to know last year is back. She comes from a spot near another building, and spent a month last year carrying nuts back there; I presume to babies. There’s no question she’s ‘my’ squirrel. When I saw her today, I got a few shelled pecans halves for her, and she came right over to take them from my hand. I guess I’ll be raising another brood this spring.

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    • They are smart little cusses, to be sure. That’s so sweet about your mama squirrel; I haven’t tried befriending a squirrel, but loved taking care of the orphans when I volunteered at Austin Wildlife Rescue. Darling and smart, they were so much fun to handle.

      The feeder in the photo is a big favorite of all the backyard critters–including the starlings, which have arrived for spring. Grr!. My solution to limit starling bullying is to put that feeder out in early morning and once I spy a starling, take it down until later in the day. If I see a squirrel nosing around for a nosh, I’ll toss peanuts to the ground from that feeder, but the downside is that tends to attract the White-winged Doves (not my fav feathered friends).

      My SIL gave me a critter-proof peanut feeder last fall and it’s becoming the favorite of the birds. The starlings still land on it, but they don’t stay and gobble all the peanuts like they do with the simple mesh one, they just take a peanut and go. I can live with that.

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  7. What a shot! I’m curious to know more about that hot sauce, as I’ve been mixing cayenne pepper in my peanuts, and the squirrels seem to have adjusted. Can you share your secret?!

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