Joanne Scantlebury has names for a lot of the squirrels she feeds on her property. (Although the follow is widespread, wildlife officers typically advise towards feeding yard animals.) (Submitted by Joanne Scantlebury)
Joanne Scantlebury says she is a recluse, however she does have numerous mates who come to her home day-after-day — greater than a dozen squirrels.
For a few years, the fibre artist and her husband have been feeding squirrels and birds that dwell round their property in Cumberland on Prince Edward Island‘s South Shore.
The squirrels not solely take peanuts proper from her hand, they dive into her pockets too. The birds can even come very shut. Final week, she mentioned a chickadee even flew into her pocket for the primary time.
“The squirrels will eat out of my pockets very often, so so long as I’ve loads of peanuts in there, numerous them will handle themselves,” she mentioned. “The blue jays will now take peanuts out of my hand as I put them up on the branches, in order that’s gotten fascinating. No one appears to be afraid of me in any respect.
“And the squirrels type of vie for consideration, you already know, ‘Mum! Mum! Me first, please!’ It is simply actually, actually enjoyable.”
‘Simply feels fantastic’
Scantlebury mentioned her morning ritual for years has been to exit on her second-storey deck, being cautious to not step on the welcoming committee, Noddy and Little Nostril (sure, she has named each).
Scantlebury is a fibre artist and works her squirrel mates into her toques and even customized cloth she designed. (Joanne Scantlebury)
Her pockets are brimming with peanuts within the shell for the squirrels, and he or she feeds and waters the birds too —chickadees, blue jays, crows, mourning doves, and final winter, a black and white duck. Feeding occurs mornings and evenings.
Scantlebury mentioned the squirrels are mild, and there have been no accidents on both facet throughout their interactions.
I actually love these little guys. We watch all of them day.— Joanne Scantlebury
“It has been a each day factor for a very long time, and we type of commune,” she mentioned. “It simply feels fantastic.”
When she hangs her laundry outdoors to dry or walks to the seaside, she mentioned she and her husband at all times carry peanuts for the squirrels, who will come operating once they see them.
“They have me educated!” she mentioned with fun.
The previous couple of months, Scantlebury started videotaping her squirrel and hen interactions to share with relations.
“I put the movies on first as a result of my grandchildren, my household wish to see them.… Since most of them are distant, I pop them on Instagram and Fb,” she mentioned. “The subsequent factor I knew, I had those that have been actually having fun with them,” from throughout.
Viewers are amused by the quick actions and humorous antics of the animals.
“Lots of instances I’ll have 4 or 5 of them racing over me, chasing one another. They’re on my head, they’re on my shoulder,” Scantlebury mentioned. “I do not wish to step on one, so there are awkward moments with the digital camera.”
‘I wanted them’
Scantlebury has at all times liked wildlife, she mentioned, however she did not get severe about feeding the squirrels till a couple of decade in the past when her mom received very sick.
“I simply discovered that I wanted the squirrels in all probability greater than they wanted me,” she mentioned. “I had one squirrel specifically that will sit with me — it could sit with me on my hammock, or on the chair wherever I used to be, and did not essentially need a peanut. It could come when it was known as — numerous them will, you already know, come by title, and Maggie did that. That is once I began to actually get into it.
Do not allow them to trick you into getting snuggles or handouts!— Andrea Wishart
“I would at all times been feeding them however I actually felt extra like I used to be communing with them at that time.”
The connection with the squirrels gave her consolation, goal and firm — to not point out leisure.
“I am a little bit of a recluse, and I actually love these little guys. We watch all of them day,” she mentioned. “I’ve received home windows all alongside the entrance of the home, and each time we exit the door we’re met by one or two. They’re very entertaining, so the price of the meals is just not a problem as a result of that is our leisure … these little characters are actually fantastic.”
Feeding wildlife not really useful
Andrea Wishart is a PhD researcher on the College of Saskatchewan specializing in purple squirrels, and mentioned she understands the temptation to get near them.
“Squirrels, particularly North American purple squirrels, are extremely enjoyable to observe, and they’re very daring and prepared to work together with folks,” Wishart advised CBC Information by way of e mail. “Do not allow them to trick you into getting snuggles or handouts! Squirrels are very clever and really resourceful, so they are going to just do tremendous on their very own.”
She recommends folks don’t feed wildlife for a number of causes. It could possibly situation animals to grow to be reliant on folks, which might result in human-wildlife battle. Many meals folks feed to wildlife will not be nutritionally applicable — for instance, feeding geese bread fills them up but affords nearly no usable vitamins, she mentioned. And conditioning wild animals to get used to people can put them in hurt’s means.
“Wild animals can carry all types of ailments that may switch to people (known as “zoonoses”, COVID is definitely one, and rabies is one other),” Wishart mentioned. “Rabies in squirrels could be very uncommon, however any mammal can carry it and you do not wish to obtain a chunk from an contaminated animal.”
Artist not apprehensive
However Scantlebury says she is not afraid of micro organism or illness they might carry.
And though squirrels have a popularity for destroying property, they have not wrecked something at her place and have not gained entry to the home.
“I have been doing this for a very long time and by no means seen nothing destructive personally — and I have been involved with tons of and tons of of squirrels, and birds.
“I hope all people can love a squirrel in the present day.”