Those Wiley squirrels

With added cat! Today’s Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, shows the fiendish ingenuity of sqrlz. The Sqrl God approves:


Weigh in below if you have a story on how your squirrels foiled your bird-feeding attempt (or other evidence of their cleverness).

h/t: Linda Grilli


  1. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I quickly learned that the squirrels in my yard could outsmart anything I would do. This left me w/ only one rational thing to do: quit trying to outsmart them. Now I just feed them what they want – peanuts, almonds in the shell, extree large sunflower seeds and the rest.

    They now are a source of extraordinary entertainment for me and the wife.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      The squirrel guard I have is really just a platform for them. It’s lower now so the chipmunks don’t get flung off but most of the squirrels eat what’s on the ground instead of biting the seed holes bigger in the feeders, the cheeky little things!

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was the chipmunks who had the cheeks, not the squirrels…?


  2. Alexander Hellemans
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The are also comfort minded. When I lived in Princeton (Harrison Street), there was a squirrel family that lived inside a hollow tree across the street. One day, a huge roll of wall-to-wall carpet appeared on the front porch of a house nearby. Apparently, the owners of the house went on vacation, and the squirrels quickly discovered the carpet, and proceeded at ripping bits off it and transporting them to their residence in the hollow tree. After a week the whole carpet had disappeared into the tree…

  3. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s not unlike the “problem” of “copy protection.” Just as there’s no meaningful difference between watching / reading / listening to something and copying it, there’s no meaningful difference between feeding one set of small arboreal dwellers or another.

    Best to simply accept that it’ll happen, and do what you can to make happy the ones you care the most about. Nothing you can do about whatever else may happen, so don’t let it get you upset.



  4. Ken Pidcock
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    We have squirrels in abundance, and I’ve never seen one defeat a cheap sprung tower bird feeder.

  5. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I do not have story about clever squirrels, but clever humans have been making some amusing squirrel feeders.

  6. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    There was a show on the BBC a while ago that highlighted the wiliness of squirrels. The producers set up obstacles that became more and more complicated. The result can be viewed here:

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I just posted that video, sent to me by Dr. Cobb, about twenty minutes ago!

      • Bob Goldsmith
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        UK to USA. Beautiful and endearingly clever creatures, but couldn’t you just take them back. I know it’s not your fault as some Lord or other brought them over but you would understand what I mean if you have ever seen a red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

  7. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I thought I might outsmart them by coating the steel pipe with Vaseline. They would take turns scrambling up the pipe toward the feeder and then slowly slide back to the ground. The first one would only make up a foot, then the next one a bit higher, and then higher and higher. Within about 1/2 an hour, they had rubbed off the Vaseline, cleaned their bellies and pawys, and were able to again climb the steel pipe to get their noms.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha I tried that once too. The best solution is just to feed everyone and get sturdy feeders they won’t break.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Completely agree. Might have shared here before, but what made us give up is when a bear bent the steel pole 90 degrees to the ground – twice – so the bird seed is now out for whoever wants to come by.

  8. James
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    This is not so much about how the sqrlz foiled me as how I foiled them.

    I had bought a very large bird feeder, support pole, and sqrl guard from a catalog to put in the backyard of my new house. When the feeder arrived, of course the sqrl guard was on back order.

    I looked at the slick, shiny, chrome-plated pole that came with the package, and being a sqrl neophyte, I decided that the support pole was to slick for a sqrl to climb so I put the feeder up in the back yard as intended.

    After filling the feeder and putting the tools and remaining bird seed in the shed, I walked back up on the deck and turned around to admire my handy work. There was a sqrl up in the feeder. I chased it away, but it was back up the pole and pillaging the feeder faster than I could climb the four steps up to the deck.

    I thought I was going to have to take the feeder down until the sqrl guard came. Then, I had an idea—one last thing to try before I admitted defeat at the hands(paws) of a sqrl.

    I went and rooted around in the boxes that contained supplies for what would be my shop until I found the spray can of WD-40. I took it out to the feeder, chased the sqrl away—again, and sprayed the support pole from top to bottom with WD-40. As I got back to the steps to the deck, I turned to see if my idea was going to work.

    The sqrl was coming from the back of the yard and was at full speed when it started up the pole. About two-thirds of the way up the pole it realized there was a problem. At about the three quarter mark it wrapped all four legs around the pole and started to slide backwards down the pole.

    What has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen is a sqrl, with a very startled look on its face and all four legs wrapped around a one and a quarter inch diameter chromed steel tube, sliding backwards down the tube until it hit the ground.

    The neighborhood sqrlz all made runs at the feeder, always with the same result. The WD-40 lasted about two and a half to three days so I sprayed the pole every second day until the sqrl guard came.

  9. Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have any tips for birdfeeders, but here’s my trick for keeping squirrels, rats, mice, ants, and bears away from cached camping food: pack everything in watertight bags and stick it under water and cover with rocks. This also refrigerates the food. No animal has ever defeated that system, even when food was stored for periods as long as a month.

    • JBlilie
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Excellent idea. Watch the tides …

  10. rainbowwarriorlizzie
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink


  11. trombus
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    My father has waged an ongoing battle with squirrels for many years. He also greased a pole ,as in comment #7, to our great amusement. The last few years he has tied a string to a hanging feeder and would sit in the window drinking coffee while waiting for the squirrels. When they finally would make it to the hanging feeder he would yank the string which elicits a great squirrel freak-out. It is like they are being hit by electricity. Great fun.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Okay, The Squirrel God has pronounced all of these machinations as blasphemous and UNKOSHER, especially when people delight in depriving squrlz of the food they need to live.

      Squirrel God dictates a commandment: If you must install a block to keep squirrels from the bird feeder, you must make alternative arrangements for feeding the squirrels.

      I have spoken.

      • trombus
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        Well he didn’t sit by the window drinking coffee all day . . .

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        What if the block becomes instead a feeding platform and you lower it to accommodate the chipmunks too – is this okay by Squirrel God?

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          Yes, if everyone gets fed. The two sins here are

          a. Keeping some wild creatures from their noms


          b. ENJOYING frustrating those wild creatures whom you’ve prevented from getting their noms.

          Laughing at frustrated squirrels is a cardinal sin.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            Squirrels also get their revenge if teased. My dad told me that when he was a kid and out with a friend, his friend threw a snowball and hit a squirrel. It was as if the squirrel had tolerated annoying boys with snowballs all day & this was his “falling down” moment. He made the angry squirrel chatter, ran up the leg of the boy who threw the snowball all the way up to his face, bit his lip & ran off.

            I love that story because the squirrel knew who threw the ball and snapped.

  12. Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I do have a relatively simple story. Many years ago we had gone camping. After a day out with the kids, seeing the lake, etc., we had come back to find our very heavy plastic food bin had been penetrated by the local campground squirrels. They had chewed a large hole through the side of the bin to get the noms inside. We were all very impressed.

    • Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Mark – this reminds me of our experience – we left our back sliding doors open with the bucket of bird food just inside. The squirrels ate though the screen door and chewed a hole in the plastic bucket to access their noms. Impressive. And now the food is stored far from the back doors.

      Also regarding Ceiling Cat’s directive – I agree with the ‘feed the squirrels too’ sentiment, but our back yard makes it difficult to find a spot that only the dozen or so species of birds can access without having to wait until the squirrels have had their fill.

  13. Dominic
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    I used to put a peanut on a rubber band to see how they coped, also put a nut just out of reach… they are not bad at puzzle solving.

  14. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    I have squirrel baffles on my bird feeders. I’m sorry, but if the squirrels had unfettered access to them, they would eat their fill, and come back for the rest to store elsewhere, over and over and over again. I’m just not that wealthy. (I feed straight sunflower seed; I’ve tried mixes, and all they do is eat the sunflower seed and leave the rest to rot.)

    But, they get plenty anyway from what is dropped by the birds. The scrub jays get on one feeder in particular and jump on it until some of the seed falls to the ground. That’s enough for them and for the squirrels, and the smaller birds don’t get robbed. L

  15. JBlilie
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I already posted this on the squirrel video page because I ahdn’t seen this page yet.


    Squirrels are smart. I used to have a bird feeder in my back yard that was held up by a nylon cord and which the squirrels really wanted to get at.

    The squirrels figured out that they could chew the cord at a very remote spot from the feeder dropping it to the ground thereby scoring all the noms. (This was after many other schemes I tried to make the feeder jump proof for squirrels whether from the ground or trees.)

    It seems clear to me that they understood that the cord suspended the feeder and cutting it would cause the feeder to fall. The place they chewed through was a long way from the feeder. The cord went over a branch from the feeder and then over to a tree trunk where it was tied off. They may have observed me untying and lowering the feeder for filling.

    I eventually replaced the cord with a 1/16-inch steel cable. That finally did the trick.

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