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FEBRUARY 19, 2009 9:45PM

I pah mastered Squirrel Sign Language!

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Out of curiosity, I challenged  myself to see if I could communicate with my neighbor-squirrels who lives in my backyard.

I swear, I think there is gossip going on with my animal-friends - the birds knows that I love feeding them seeds and many different breeds in flocks would take turns feeding from the seed block on the fence and the next thing I know the squirrels are fighting over for the food. Eventually I moved the bird feeder so that the squirrels won't hog their food and leave the poor birds alone. They can be such bullies sometimes - not that the birds are so innocent - you should see how some leader-like bird drive others away! Once I saw a chickadee bird hungrily pecking away at the bird feeder and another bird was too close for his comfort apparently - and suddenly the leader-bird, while still eating- with one talon grabbed the other bird's tail and it could not fly away and it flapped its wing anxiously chirping like crazy. I nearly dropped my dishes in astonishment of such action and burst out laughing. This beats watching TV anytime! 

Another fun encounter with a bird neighbor - and this is the honest truth - I was walking to a cab on the driveway and suddenly I saw a hummingbird who shot through the air and abruptly stopped right in front of me about 4 feet high and stared at me as if to tell me "Hey, feed us too!" Few weeks later, I got a nice glass nectar feeder and now bunch of beautiful amazing colorful 'fairies' comes feed on daily basis. I get so excited when the hummingbirds zips near my kitchen window. 

Anyway, back to my mastering Squirrel Sign Language experiment... at first, I jokingly signed to my squirrel friends - "Food want?" I'd do this on daily basis and plant some nuts or peanut butter on a popiscle stick on my back porch door way. I learned squirrel go NUTS over peanut butter.  Eventually, I quit feeding in the real cold winter  as they were no longer coming out. I still didn't understad how much my squirrel friends understood me. When I didn't sign - they'd look at me listlessly. When I signed - they'd go on full alert mode - body leaning over, blinking rapidly and chatter-like and flick their tails. Sometimes, if I look away doing my thing - they'll flick their tails like crazy and it's impossible to ignore!

Just a few weeks ago - I'm sitting in my livingroom and suddenly I feel someone is staring at me. I slowly turned my head to the left and sure enough there's Mr One Arm (s/he has two arms but always tucks one to hir chest whenever s/he sits up - so cute)... and I smile happily and sign "Food want?" To my delight, the Mr One Arm perks up and starts chattering and blinking furiously. I ask again, "Food want?" and nod my head. Mr One Arm mimics my head nod and opens its toothy mouth as if asking "Well, where's the food?!" and I laugh. I stand up and walk to my kitch to retrieve some cashews and it follows me as he pounces on the branches to the fence peering through my kitchen. I thought it was humans watching animals - it's the opposite here - lots of little beady shiny eyes likes to watch my every move here. 

I've earned their trust after three years of sharing my food and signing squirrel sign language. By that, I mean when a squirrel starts flipping its tail - mimic them... and it'll grab their attention really fast. Soon you both will be flipping and flapping back and forth although you two have no idea what you're chatting about - it's still fun! 

Just last month, one squirrel nervously walked up to me very cautiously and placed one paw to lower my fingers and gingerly bit the cracker with nuts on it and happily scooted off up to the tree and sit on his favorite spot - almost as if showing off "See, I'm eating your food - yummy yummy! Thank you! Tee hee! Chitter-chatter-chump!" When he has fill, he quickly scampers off to my neighbor's cedar trees until I no longer see him. 

Try it sometimes - sign to your squirrel friend on daily basis and gradually you both will learn ASL and SSL! (Squirrel Sign Language).

Squirrelfully yours,


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awww so cute. and who said squirrels are parasites?
There are several squirrels where I live that are very tame and will come feed out of your hand. I don't always see them, but when I do on my way to work, one of them follows me to the car as he knows I sometimes keep peanuts in there to feed him.

I make clicking noises, and he flicks his tail, then comes running after me to get his treat. It's great fun feeding the squirrels I agree.
Thanks, Poddys, for sharing your delightful story about your squirrel friend - aren't they just adorable?!
Hermionedwitch, you nailed it right on the head! Considering how many people adopt various other non-squirrel pets - kind of ironic how they view squirrels as parasites. Man has created domestic pets to be totally dependent on them.
Someday, I hope to have a free roaming country cat friend who will adopt me. >^..^
Hehe, if you ever visit Istanbul, I can direct you to about 3 million of them, and at least 50 live within 5 blocks of my house... Judging from the yowling in the neighborhood, the first new crop of the year is now in the making! :)