Wild ‘pets’ have different personalities

A couple of years ago, I discovered the perfect animal for a pet.
The relationship started as you might expect–he scampered through the yard, spotted me snacking at the deck chairs, and warily approached looking for a handout.
I happened to have a bag of trail mix, and threw him a peanut.
His bewhiskered, elfin face quivered as he rolled the nut between his delicate fingers and chomped away.
A seed might get buried, and eventually develop into a tree, but the treat of a perfectly plump peanut is far too delicious.
After throwing him a couple more peanuts, he slowly sidled closer and within no time he started eating out of my hand.
We call the little red squirrel “Charles.
Then after about a week, the strangest thing happened–Charles greeted me at the end of the dock as I was about to step out of the boat with an armful of groceries.
Although I’m not one to give emotions to animals, I think he missed me.
I’m the one with the nuts.
He even frolicked by my side as I ran the boxes of groceries up the hill.
If only he helped me carry stuff, the relationship could be perfect because Charles is sweet—like Skippy the peanut butter squirrel except without the little green sweater.
Not all squirrels are so easy to get along with, though. I’ve encountered some with less likeable personalities.
A small, shiny furred sow currently in our yard continually chatters and scolds, only letting her male partner get close to her during the bi-yearly mating season.
The male is a bit of a dope, and doesn’t do his share of the hoarding.
Our neighbours’ squirrel also is a quirky individual—and maybe even downright evil. He repeatedly shows up inside their log cabin by ripping out the chink patches which help make up the walls, yet they have never fed the squirrel nor found a nest.
Its head has popped up at their feet as they are reading, and one morning they wakened to it perched proudly on the arm of a chair by their bed.
Like a game, this squirrel has continued to find new ways to enter for no obvious reason except to torment them.
Definitely the red squirrel is the perkiest little wildling, and the boldest pound-per-pound of any other living thing in the forest. I’ve even witnessed one chase a snowshoe hare out of the yard—even though a hare is six times bigger.
Charles has a much calmer personality than the average squirrel, though, providing us with a worthy pet. He’ll even sit on my knee, impishly glancing up as I stroke his chestnut fur.
Plus he takes care of himself, eliminating the need for a kennel during our trips away.
So you can imagine my reaction one clear, sunny morning last winter when I stepped out onto the bay for some fresh air to find a line of fox tracks to a place of tragedy.
There at my feet lay the tale of a drama . . . and the tail of my dear Charles.
Which leads me to another reason why the red squirrel is sometimes the perfect pet: it is easily replaced.
Since our first “Charles,” we’ve fortunately had a few more well-mannered squirrels, and in fact I’m sure the dynasty is never-ending.

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