Have you seen this Squirrel?
Many of you through my blog here, or via Facebook, and the few lucky ones to have met him in person know him as Jigger. He is one of the most personable Squirrels to visit my backyard. Why is he named Jigger? He did a little dance as he approached to take a peanut from our fingers back in his early days. No, not a cha-cha-cha or tango but this side to side shift as he moved cautiously towards the peanut in hand. Mind you, after a couple years of being with us, the dance disappeared and it was not uncommon for Jigger to jump into the lap of someone waving a peanut for him. I'd be digging in the garden and often Jigger would be climbing my cargo pants, trying to get into the pockets where I held the tasty treats for him. I never felt alone out back with Jigger around. Sure, there's always action with birds and Squirrels about, but Jigger sure added some excitement/entertainment.
I'd say it's been 2 weeks now since I've last seen him. This was his fourth year with us. How long do Squirrels live? Who really knows? Especially in the city. There are so many dangers for a Squirrel here.
He seemed in good bouncy health when we last met. It was raining heavily and I remember opening the backdoor to see him sitting there soaking wet. He stepped inside onto the mat, shook off the rain, took a couple peanuts from hand and off he went.
As the days passed, of course I began to wonder. A few incidents of late have left me wondering even more. One being that I have seen a Fox casually walking the sidewalk here at 11:30am last Sunday. I always thought Fox were more of a nocturnal creature and not keen on being around people. So to see one on this street is a first for me. I have seen them less than a kilometer from here, in the woods; but not here, around the homes and people. Squirrels can be a meal source for a Fox.
Another incident that I hate discussing is that a neighbour 3 houses over has this beast of a cat that runs free among the backyards and instinct gets the best of her often... we had a young Squirrel fall victim to this cat a couple weeks ago under the birdbath. Many times I have caught this cat hunting through the backyards and my super soaker comes in quite handy... but she still returns.
And lastly, a friend across the street recently informed me that some people over on her side have been poisoning the Squirrels. These people apparently work in this small factory behind the houses across the road. How true this is, I don't know. She was warned since she has a few cats of her own that she lets out. I don't agree with this. I don't understand this. Seriously! Some have talked about a decline in the Squirrels about the neighbourhood. I personally don't see this over on my side other than Jigger right now. It would be such an unfair end to his life. I think I should investigate this and blow the whistle on the individuals if it is true... it's cruel and it's against the law! This would have a large impact on the wildlife of the area! Not only does it harm the Squirrels but anything that happens to feed upon them... like the above mentioned Fox, Crows (since they can be carrion eaters), and Hawks who may choose to catch a slow moving (poisoned) Squirrel.
So, that's the one thing about befriending the wildlife around the 'hood. We get attached to them, they get names, they become our furry friends but in the end they still are wildlife and often we don't know what happens to them when they just don't come around anymore.
I've worried in the past about Jigger's comfortable habits with us and if he ever would be like that with other people in other backyards around here? An unsuspecting person would probably have some kind of freak. But, I'd like to think that he surely must recognize us and the offering of a peanut.
Unlike a human friend with an address and most times a telephone where we could call in to; this is not the case with a furry creature who bounces into the yard through the side gate and disappears to wherever via that same route.
I still hold out hope that perhaps I've just been missing him these days. Maybe he will return one day? Or I will eventually accept that he is truly gone.
A connection with any animal is an amazing thing and to bond with the wild ones is life changing with long lasting memories.
The newbies around lately are keeping me pretty busy. There's Scar, Charlie (who turns out to be Charlene), Nosey, Teddy, Starvin' Marvin and the return of Mr. Half-Tail who now has a full tail once again but his personality sure hasn't changed.
Here is Nosey...
One of the un-named young'uns checking out Meadow...
Another baby, and this photo makes me laugh every time... it's a little boy and I am wondering if he is curious about something down there (if you know what I mean)?
All I can say to finish this blog is that if Jigger is out there, I hope he's okay and comes home soon... we miss him.