Sunday, May 03, 2009
In Victoria, the guards at Parliament trained Dennis to eat from their hands. They'd whistle and he would come running to take peanuts in the shell from the gloved hand of the guard. So I said to myself, "I wonder if I could teach my squirrels to do that."
Several times I have parked myself next to the rail where I feed them and called them to come and get it. One of the reds came very close--so close that she came up and sniffed the shell of the nut, but wouldn't take it from my hand. Other days, she wouldn't even come that close.
This morning, I walked out with the bag of peanuts in my arm and one peanut in my hand. The squirrel sat at the end of the railing close to the door where I go to the deck. She didn't run when I walked out so I turned sideways with my arm fully extended, sidled up to her, and stuck the peanut in her mouth. She took it, turned, and ran to jump in the trees while she ate her treasure.
I walked down to the feeding area and waited. I held out another peanut. She scrambled around in the trees and ran at my feet. Every time I moved to bring the nut closer to her, she spooked. I stopped moving and held the nut out at the level of the rail. She came to the rail and took the nut from my hand and jumped in the trees to eat it.
One more time, she finished her nut. This time she came directly to the rail, ran up to my extended hand, and took the peanut. This time when she leapt into the trees, I put out several handsful, as is my custom, and came in the house because it started to rain harder.
We did all right, we two. It took us less than 6 weeks--and I was gone for a full week in there. No more than 6 sessions, I am sure. I'll try for a repeat tomorrow.