Adult squirrel noms acorn and peanut

My squirrel tending proceeds apace, involving repeated purchases of nuts and seeds (bird-feeding has somehow become included). While the three juveniles continue to feed, there are one or two adults who join them (and drive the juveniles away when they appear).

Here’s one adult making short work of an acorn; I think this rodent is a male. Notice that he abandons the acorn at about 2:25, picks up a peanut to take away, and, before he leaves, has a sip of water and puts the peanut into the water to keep it away from thieves.

Note too the gnawing marks on the windowsill: the shiny silver rubbings that appear at about 1:20. I now learn that squirrel teeth grow about six inches a year, and I’m supposed to provide them with something to gnaw on—like sterilized deer antlers! Have you ever tried to find sterilized deer antlers on the internet?

It’s good to be the squirrel God. Unlike the Abrahamic God, I am truly omnibenevolent, real, and I answer prayers.


  1. Posted October 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure there’re lots of humans who wished that our teeth regrew like that….


  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    You are a benevolent god and provide abundance for your subjects even if they don’t pray to you.

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh, but they do pray! They ask for noms, Jerry gives them sqrlz manna!


  3. Posted October 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I can send you a deer antler. As for sterilizing it…that’s not my area of expertise.

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I imagine an autoclave would do the trick, and I’m sure Jerry knows where to find one.

      That, or bleach.


    • Marella
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I expect a run though a regular dishwasher would suffice too.

      • Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        or whatever a lab uses to wash Petrie dishes — good idea, Marella!

        • AdamK
          Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          If I wanted to sterilize a deer antler, one of the first people I might turn to for help would be a professor of biology.

          Just goes to show what I know.

  4. Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I have a deer antler if you want it. It is definitely not sterile, however!

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Boil it – might take a while. Consult the Microbiology folks on campus – they might be able to advise you — or be willing to participate in the experiment! In any event, by the time it is has been on the window sill for a minute or two it will be no longer sterile, though it may have collected other organisms than originally inhabited it. What is the incidence of Lyme disease among local deer? Ask the Epidemiology folks. No vet school at UC, but there is a Zoology Dept who might be interested — you can embark on a multidisciplinary adventure with this problem!

      • Jim Knight
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        In South Carolina, where there are LOTS of squirrels, we regularly find antlers in the woods that have the characteristic gnaw marks of large rodents. Southern squirrels don’t really need to have their chew toys boiled or otherwise cleaned. It would probably do the “city squirrels” some good physiologically to have access to a “dirty chew toy.”

        • Achrachno
          Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure wild squirrels everywhere are quite used unsterilized antlers, bones and the like.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          Maine red squirrels gnaw on unsterilized deer antlers they find. Why for Ceiling Cat’s sake do urban squirrels need sterilized deer antlers? Does Jerry sterilize the food he gives HIS squirrels? Surely urban squirrels are not that effete.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Eating hard stuff should be good enough for the squirrels. My spoiled guinea pigs I had did ok with just having nice crunchy noms.

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I imagine a bag of black walnuts should do the trick…except I’d be too tempted to eat them, myself!


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Funny you should say that as I wondered if it was weird that I developed a craving for nuts while watching the video.

        • Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          Yet more evidence of being telepathetic….


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Yes, hive mind stuff.

  6. Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    SIX inches a year ! Crikey ! W H O A !

    S o o o o, dear Squirrel God, explain, please, the evolutionary ‘benefit’ o’that — particularly if’n you don’ happen “to hear” in any one year’s time, say, a specific squirrel’s prayer ‘nd, thus, don’t happen to get that ‘ne’s answered in time to wear ’em down to … … O, say, normal size ? !

    • hrovitnir
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Rodents all grow their incisors continuously: eating hard foods will keep them down: they grow continuously so they can continue to eat those hard foods.

      They also grind their bottom incisors up against the top ones, which chisels them into a… chisel shape. (A synonym escapes me.)

      In pet rodents, if people do not provide hard foods and wooden toys to chew (antlers are a cool idea!) they can overgrow. If they don’t notice long enough the molars will overgrow too, and that requires an anaesthetic to clip them back.

      P.S. Hai squirrel god! I found you looking for articles on gynoandromorphism, twas useful for linking peoples. 😀

    • Hempenstein
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I expect that they grow at the same rate that they get wear down from the stuff they eat, and if they get a load of soft stuff like shelled peanuts, they’ll gnaw on any old thing to wear them down. Suspect this is why gerbils shred anything you put in their cage.

  7. Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Deer antlers can easily be found locally and Internet. Dogs love them. Check amazon. Some are sliced open. Not sure which type squirrels prefer.

  8. D. Taylor
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    My daughter bought a sterilized deer antler for our d*g several months ago at a local pet store. It was pricey, and at first I was doubtful. But it has been a real winner–by far the best chew-toy I’ve ever seen. If you get one, it should last at least through the winter–provided you anchor it to your windowsill. Ours was $20.00–definitely not peanuts!

  9. Eli Siegel
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I think there may be concern about chronic wasting disease of deer caused by a prion.
    Autoclaving might not inactivate the prion,
    but the cross species barrier should protect the squirrel.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:59 am | Permalink

      CWD is a variant of the CJD / Kuru/ BES/ Scrapie family isn’t it? Which would imply that the normal protein is from the (central) nervous system.
      Do antlers contain CNS material, at all?
      Hmmm, oddly Wikipedia simultaneously describes it as “a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)”, and “There is no known relationship between CWD and any other TSE of animals or people,” and cites CDC advice that “hunters should avoid eating deer and elk tissues known to harbor the CWD agent (e.g., brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes)”. Which all sounds rather TSE-like. And an article severely in need of some editing.
      On the assumption that CWD is a TSE, which is what I’d heard from non-wikipedia sources, I still can’t see why that would make antler a transmission vector.

  10. Jim Knight
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t you take the mantle of “Benevolent Squirrel King?” Squirrel God adds way too much of the supernatural to the equation. Besides, as they said in the movie, “It’s GOOD to be King!”

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Looks like your irony meter is probably overdue for a tuneup. If you take yours to Joe-Bob’s Oaxacan Food Imports and Irony Meter Repair, tell Bob I sent you and he should give you a good discount. And, while you’re there, be sure to try the cheese! Great stuff….



  11. Florian
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I would think running the antler in a microwave oven for a minute or so would kill any organisms. Science centers do with with owl pellets before they let school children dissect them.


    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      One good way to wreck a microwave, unless you put something with appreciable water content in there, too.

      • Florian
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Owl pellets don’t have much if any moisture and have never ruined the microwaves i’ve used to “sterilize” them.


        • Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          I bet compared to bone they sure as heck do. You know how microwave ovens work, don’t you? That it’s heat, not the microwaves themselves that do the sterilizing? And that unabsorbed radiation tends to burn out the magnetron? And that water (and some other stuff, like oils) provide the material doing the absorbing?

          • Florian
            Posted October 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

            Yes, i know how they work. And owl pellets found on the desert are “bone” dry.


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:11 am | Permalink

        To be honest, I’ve never damaged a microwave by using it on low-water materials either. And I can’t recall hearing of anyone else doing so either. But that’s marginal.
        I’d be more concerned about the antler splintering and sharp bits of bone flying around as some fluid-filled pockets boil. But even then, not very concerned.

  12. alexandra moffat
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s hunting season ( : – ((( ) in various states at various times, put a wanted in a local paper or find a local hunters’ site and ask for deer antlers. You might have to find an upstate location but no doubt there are local people who either hunt or know hunters.

  13. Jim Thomerson
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    If you go out and look around in the Chicago greenbelts you should be able to find a shed deer antler fairly easily.

  14. Lianne Byram
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Being a squirrel god sounds like a very demanding and time-consuming occupation!

    • Marella
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      To say nothing of expensive! Being a god is clearly not all it’s cracked up to be, no wonder the one in the bible is so bad tempered all the time.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha but he sucks at it. Jerry puts some effort in! 🙂

        • Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          I’ve yet to see a hint that Jerry ever does anything half-assed.

          Actually, I suspect that his real research is in Star Trek-style cloning, and that there’re really a half-dozen of him….


          • Lianne Byram
            Posted October 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            That would explain a lot 🙂

      • Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Not to mention…Jerry’s worshippers are cute sqrlz, but YHWH’s were some rather ornery and ignorant goatherders. Don’t know ’bout you, but I’d be a hell of a lot happier with the sqrlz for pets!


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget expensive! I was visiting my parents this afternoon & told my dad about Jerry’s squirrels and how he was a squirrel god and my dad said it would be better to worship Jerry over the Abrahamic god anyway! 🙂

  15. Diane G.
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t you expect the something-to-gnaw-on advice referred to captive squirrels? 🙂

    I’m sure these tough Chicago natives can find something in their habitat that suffices.

    OTOH, a vid of tooth-filing squirrels would be pretty cool…

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      tooth-filing squirrels

      …yet another great garage band name….


    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree. There must be lots of cherry and apple tree limbs and so forth to chew on, aren’t there? Perhaps it’s better to go with what the environment can offer, besides the additional noms with which Dr. C has so generously endowed them, of course.

  16. Sophy Cooper
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Our local pet store has various things for pet rats etc. to chew on for their teeth, including sterilized antler bits. Try finding a pet store that caters to rodents and you’ll find a lot. But surely it doesn’t have to be deer only. What about bones from a steak or roast or something similar.

  17. Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Eating lunch on the grass on the UC campus in the summer wins you lots of attention — from squirrels and bees as well. This is especially true if you are eating a PB&J sandwich. The bees hover & so do the squirrels.

  18. AdamK
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    But why did the squirrel wash the peanut at the very end of the video? That seemed like the most interesting behavior, and no one mentioned it.

    Is it just something intended to creep me out, like the last shot of The Blair Witch Project?

    • Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Dr. C mentioned that perhaps the squirrel was keeping it out limits from competitors, while s/he took a drink.

  19. Bob J.
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Again, get the pre-shelled peanuts from the pet supply store. After a winter’s worth of feeding you will have 25 lbs of shells in your back yard.

  20. Barry
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    “I tell you! I can’t stand this filth anymore! It’s constant rain on my patio of bird excrement, nut hulls, and little dark raisin like things that have a foul stench around here. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I swear I’m going to find out. I’ve called the Department of Buildings and Grounds, and their sending men over today to investigate.”

    (Words of a Chicago Professor overheard outside his office on the ground floor of Jerry Coyne’s building.)

    • Barry
      Posted October 29, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      All this talk about where to get the antlers and how you should sterilize them is silly. This is deer hunting season. You just drive down to your local meat packer (take a pickup truck and a saw), and load up all the antlers you can carry (probably for free). And since rodents have been chewing on antlers and bones for millions of years, they probably prefer them in their natural state. Oh, and by the way, those three squirrels I was worried about with hawks in my back yard all disappeared for about three weeks. Then they came back with two more (5 total now). The mother now has large healing wounds on both sides, so she obviously got into it with some kind of predator, but got away.

  21. Brygida Berse
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    As deer antlers are a well known aphrodisiac, I’m preparing myself for a new series of amazing squirrel photos taken from Jerry’s window.

    • Posted October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Now he’ll have to get little Chippendale’s costumes for them.

      • Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Erm…you do know, do you not, that Chip ‘n’ Dale != Chippendales, do you not?



        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          LOL, that is just so wrong! Wrong species & wrong squirrel occupation. 🙂

        • Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          Oh yeaaahhhh….

          Problem was, I wasn’t sure which way of spelling it would be funnier. I kept going back and forth with it, hoping someone would get me jokesies. 🙂

          • Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            Good to know it was intentional! The deadpan delivery sucked me in….


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            I got sucked in by the poe of it all!

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

            I thought it followed perfectly after the aphrodisiac mention. 😉

  22. Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    What about a vet for sterilising the antlers?

  23. rainbowwarriorlizzie
    Posted October 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink


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