Squirrel Squabbles

Our two little orphaned squirrels are rapidly progressing into juveniles. Punkin, who is just a week older than her brother, Gambini, has been a self-starter from the get-go. She has become quite woodland savvy, having made her way down to the canyon, exploring the deeper woods. Gambini, on the other hand, is still more cautious and tends to stick to trees closer to the house.

Gambini loves his corn on the cob!
Gambini loves his corn on the cob!

In part, a squirrel’s gender determines much of how their lives are lived. Fall is a busy time of year with all of the squirrels gathering nuts and berries for a winter food cache, and I have not observed Punkin having any difficulties with the many other squirrels inhabiting the area.  Gambini, however, has been chased by other males, and I have witnessed a lot of chortling and squabbling in the trees just south of the house. Apparently, Mr. Gambini has been intruding on another male’s territory. On more than one occasion, I have seen Gambini making a dash to the shelter of our back porch, with a much larger male squirrel in pursuit. To Gambini’s credit, that has not stopped him from venturing back out when the coast has cleared, to make his own way in the woodland world.

As a pair, Punkin and Gambini get along well, but their personalities are very different. Punkin is larger and quite tenacious about getting her way. At first, she was bossy and stole Gambini’s food from his paws. She raided his food stash in his squirrel house (mostly pecans). But lately, I have noticed Mr. Gambini has found his own niche in getting one over on his “sister”. She might be bigger in size, but he is swift and very clever in out maneuvering her. He is not afraid to fight back for his food and is often successful with snatching something from her paws and quickly making an exit. As a result, there are now more frequent chortles and squabbles over morning vittles. Even with two sections of corn on the cob on the food plate, the squabble will be over one particular portion. Typical kids.

Squirrels Punkin Gambini_8336 Squirrels Punkin Gambini_8346 Squirrels Punkin Gambini_8347 Squirrels Punkin Gambini_8348 Squirrels Punkin Gambini_8350

In this series of photographs Punkin was the dominant food snatcher! At this stage Gambini was beginning to fight back for his food, doing his best to annoy Punkin!
In this series of photographs, Punkin began as the dominant food snatcher! At this stage, however, Gambini was beginning to fight back for his food, and doing his best to annoy Punkin!

Punkin is still quite vocal with us, and always quick to offer one of her “Er-er-er-er-er” conversations when we come outside. She still leaps on us and scrambles all over our bodies – especially when the gift of a pecan is involved. She will still let us pet her and seems to enjoy the attention. She still plays “finger fighting” with us and gently attacks or nibbles our fingers.  In contrast, Mr. Gambini is not interested in us at all, unless there is a food giveaway involved. He absolutely does not like to be petted, and sometimes bites if you get a finger too close while he is eating. He is fast and clever at moving up and under, zigging and zagging to safety, and I cannot catch him at all anymore. But, I am really rather glad to see this, as he will need these skills as a male in the wild.

For now, the two of them still rely on a morning feeding before setting out to spend all day in the woods. But their food tastes are changing. Corn on the cob, or seeds and nuts, are now preferred over avocados and fruit slices. I often find Punkin down in the canyon near the deer feeders where she nibbles at corn left scattered on the ground by the deer. I notice they both eat tree leaves and some of the tender weeds in the back yard.  The pecans we give them each day are buried in the flower beds around the house, if not immediately consumed. Recently, the two have been making shelter in a large split in a hackberry tree just south of our house. I have heard knocking and gnawing from inside, so I imagine they are setting up housekeeping. This is the same tree our long-ago-orphaned squirrel, Frosty, set up his first digs. We will leave their squirrel cage set up on the back porch just in case they need it, but I feel that they are gradually making their way to the woodlands.

Everything seems to be going just fine at the moment.
Everything seems to be going just fine at the moment.
Uh oh, here comes the "evil eye" we females are so good at!
Uh oh, here comes the “evil eye” we females are so good at!

I am thankful for being able to observe this time of Punkin and Gambini’s “soft” release into the wild. It is a slow process for squirrels. They are very timid creatures. They venture further into the woods a little at a time, only as they feel secure. We are able to observe how instinct leads these orphans to know how to survive.  For now, the two seem to be working together to prepare for the cold winter months ahead, perhaps planning to hole-up as a pair to keep warm. But it will not be long before a less playful squabble will ensue and they will move on as the solitary individuals they were born to be – discovering and accomplishing new things, occasionally indulging in a bit of playfulness, and of course having a real squabble or two every now and then!

Gambini and Punking enjoying a snack together in the evening sunset.
Gambini and Punkin enjoy a snack together in the evening sunset.

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


52 thoughts on “Squirrel Squabbles

  1. Who knew squirrels could be that cute. And “chortles and squabbles over morning vittles” just cracks me up. It’s like you are Ella Mae from the Jed Clampet clan, Beverly Hillbillys. Except you save lives and are a friend to the universe. I never knew what the heck they were. Nice post Lori.

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    1. Ha ha! Thank you Mike. I always liked watching the Beverly Hillbilly’s as a kid. I was more interested in what Granny’s elixir (rheumatism medicine) was all about than I was with Elly’s animals!

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  2. They are just too adorable for words really! Gorgeous pics! I am yet to see a squirrel in real life. The brushtail possums here are pretty cute except when they keep me awake all night with the nocturnal roof-time shenanigans! 🙂

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    1. Ha ha! Jane, we have the same problem with raccoons! They manage to get on our back porch quite often in the wee hours of the morning! I understand there are many parts of the world where squirrels do not exist. We have so many here and they can become problematic. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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    1. Aren’t they just so entertaining? We have many that feed off the dropped deer corn in the canyon, and of course this area has many pecan, walnut, various fruit trees, and berries so they have plenty to feast on all year long!

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    1. Yes we are very lucky. Punkin is a real joy with her chatter and her tolerance of us petting her. And Mr. Gambini is really amazing for his size. Being smaller than most squirrels might be an advantage with his agility and quick thinking!

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  3. I always feel two ways when I read these posts — delighted by your savvy and experience in helping these delightful creatures reach independence, and a terrible longing for my Smackers. Sigh. But your photos are marvelous, and your descriptions of squirrel behavior spot on. The best news is that the shelled sunflower I’ve been putting out on a little strip of grass under some small oaks where I park has lured in a squirrel or three! I thought there was a nest around, and now I’m sure of it. I haven’t seen the three for a while, but every now and again I’ll spot one having some sunflower seed along with the acorns. Once the acorns are gone, they’ll still find something in that spot to eat. 🙂

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    1. Oh I know how you feel. I still think of Frosty from so many years ago. He’s probably not alive anymore but I have so many wonderful and comical photos of him. It has been interesting to raise a male and female this time to observe their personalities. I read that the striped sunflower seeds are what they prefer (over the black oil) and of course they love dried corn, but I also feed these two sweet corn on the cob when I can find it. Oh and pecans are a must! 😀

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    1. Thanks, Charla! I hope you are doing well. I am not on Facebook, and it seems the chatgroup has dwindled and gone the route of social media. I still have Zoe, Bear, and Mr. T – and of course Zoe is my little ranch hand! 🙂

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  4. Very cute!!
    A Couple of weeks ago a saw 2 squirrels searching nuts in a forest but i couldnt’t take a picture because they were moving so fast 😀

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  5. I love that their personalities are so different and so obvious! I’m not sure I even thought about the personality of a squirrel. wonderful post!

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  6. Gorgeous photos Lori, and as usual, you have captured those moments perfectly and preserved them for us all to follow this delightful story. Punkin has a very strong character but little Gambini isn’t far behind. How exciting to be a conduit to an orphaned animals journey back to the wild and to get to watch them progress and move on to find lives out there in the woods. I salute you Ms Lori. What you do is invaluable for the animals 🙂

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    1. Hello Fran! I think most people are willing to do their part – be it the rescuer or the rehabilitator. I learn so much from these little orphans. It enriches my life – they are messengers and teachers. I love sharing the experience of it all in this blog. I have connected with so many wonderful kindred souls here… we’re all softies when it comes to these little critters! 🙂

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  7. Ah the squirrels. Such a cute commentary of their growing up. The males will get you good and proper if you’re not careful. It’s the raging hormones that makes the little fellas mean. The photos are so good. Very nice work.

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    1. Thank you Yvonne. Gambini started out such a sweet boy who seemed to need extra attention. Now he’s all boy… and I am letting him be wild. It won’t be long and he’ll be off doing his man stuff. I’d say raising these two is a success all around! 🙂

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  8. Hi Lori, This post is a delight. With so much entertainment being provided outside your home, you would rarely need to watch television. Good Luck to Punkin and Gambini over the winter. Will they hibernate at any time during the winter months? or will they remain active throughout relying on their winter store?

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    1. Squirrels here remain active all winter. They might stay holed up for a day or too if we get a snow or ice storm, but mostly they are active all of the time. Since Punkin and Gambini won’t have had time to build a cache of food, we will keep some around for them all winter. As soon as our warmer spring weather arrives, we likely won’t see these two anymore! I rarely watch TV for this very reason… between the deer and the squirrels there is constant entertainment!!

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    1. Thank you, Lioness. It’s such a delight to share these two! So much hilarious entertainment… of course I try not to think about those little gnaw spots on the wood of the back porch!! LOL

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  9. Your photos are absolutely incredible, I especially love the first one, and your new header! I really enjoy reading about their personalities as well as their adventures as they step into new territory. You have done so well raising them, especially with all the extra care Mr G took when you first took him in. Just look at them now, they are growing fast. Great post, Big Sister; as always!!

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    1. Thanks Jules. These little critters arrive at times in our lives when we need to nurture… and they bring us joy and entertainment… and teach lessons. It’s a win win situation for all!

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  10. Excellent narrative and brilliant pictures. You should soon write a book which, I am sure, would be a bestseller! Sorry for the delayed comment since I have not been in the “read” mode of late! 😉

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    1. Thank you… oh I think we all have times of “rest” when we put aside the busy-ness of life. I have committed to writing a book about my experience with Daisy deer, and I have started it but making time and being in the mood to write has made it a slow process. I do believe one of these days the mood will strike me greatly and I’ll go gangbusters writing. All of these things take time, don’t they?

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  11. You do get to see some amazing things Lori – such a privilege to see these interactions between animals. And so much character!

    On another note, I asked a while ago if you would be interested in writing a guest post (things have been quite hectic since) – would you still like to? 🙂

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    1. Hi Rachel! It is very amazing in such a small area all of the wildlife we see. These two will soon disappear to live their own lives in the wild. And yes, I would still write a guest post but for the next couple of weeks I’m quite busy. I will try to contact you via your email to let you know when I’m freed up! 🙂

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    1. Ha ha!! There is no trick to my photographs. Out of twenty shots I might get one good one. I use the auto focus a lot, since these two are so quick. But I also have a great zoom lens that makes it easy to get up close and personal.

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  12. I love all the pictures of them interacting with each other! It’s good to know they’ll be wintering together this first cold season…it must be scary learning to make your way in the wild like that.

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    1. Yes, I think it is for squirrels since they are some of those at the bottom of the food chain. I notice this week with the frigid temperatures that they stay holed up most of the day. We still have them on the back porch. Protected from the wind, but still able to come and go if they like. Punkin is fat and fluffy with her winter hair. Poor Mr. Gambini is going to be a little fella. I worry about his size. The male squirrels are so territorial and as small as he is, he will have to be quick to escape and witty to out maneuver some of the big fellas out there!

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