We had some real bad storms when we were living in southern Georgia. One storm knocked a baby squirrel out of the tree in front of our shop. The boys and myself wrapped him up in a towel and took him home to momma (Bess). This squirrel was no larger than a bean. We fed him with an eyedropper and then with a doll's baby bottle. We kept him in our home in a cardboard box with a small light for heat. As he got big enough to get around, we cut a hole in the box so he could get out.
Bess would place a towel on the coffee table and put the squirrel - Nutsey - on the towel. Since he was too small, she would open a raw peanut and hand it to Nutsey. He'd roll it around and nibble on it while he watched the TV. He loved watching TV. When Bess wasn't looking, he'd start to scamper off the table to find a place to bury the peanut. Bess would catch him and say, “Eh, eh,” and he would start nibbling on the peanut on the towel and continue watching TV. He would watch the TV for hours.
As he got older, he would sit straddled of the arm on Bess's easy chair and watch TV. When Nutsey wanted to play, he'd scamper behind the easy chair and play peek-a-boo with Bess.
In the winter, I would be sacked out on the couch - for those who don't know, a couch is called a “divan” in Oklahoma - with a cover over me. Nutsey would crawl under the cover and go to sleep with me. I always was afraid I'd roll over on him, but the second I'd move, he'd be gone like a bullet. When I'd settle down, he'd be right back under the cover with me.
When he was older, we'd give Nutsey a pecan on the towel. He'd roll it around to check it out and then start opening it. I learned that squirrels won't open a bad nut; they can tell when a nut is bad before opening it. If we weren't watching, Nutsey would slip off the towel and coffee table, and since he couldn't bury the nut, he would hide it under a throw rug and pat it down just like he was covering it up. When someone stepped on the nut, Nutsey would hear the crunch and come running, slip under the rug and retrieve the opened nut.
We also had a Manx cat in the house. A Manx cat is a bob-tailed cat. Bess taught the cat and the squirrel to be friends. We could leave the cat and squirrel alone in the house together with no problem. Cats and squirrels are natural enemies, but Manx even would protect Nutsey from other cats when they were outside.
Nutsey loved ice cream. Bess would take Nutsey to town, and he would ride on top of the seatback. Bess would take Nutsey to the local Dairy Queen and get him a small ice cream cone and bring the cone back to the car. While he was eating the ice cream cone, no one was buying ice cream or getting waited on.
Squirrels like to have a nest! Nutsey started hiding cloth, cotton and other things in the hide-a-bed couch. So Bess gave Nutsey a spot in the storage space in the hide-a-bed couch for his nest.
Squirrels are reasonably clean animals. They don't mess everywhere; they choose a specific spot and always do their job there.
Squirrels like to chew on things like wood, pencils and even lamp cord. Bess was cleaning the house and ran a damp cloth over the cord to the lamp - and got shocked. Nutsey had been chewing the insulation off the lamp cord and carrying the plastic to his nest.
Needless to say, Nutsey was out the door. He could come in at night, but had to stay outside during the day. Little by little and time to time, Nutsey would stay out longer. I think he finally found a girlfriend and disappeared. We would see him from time to time, and he would come climbing on us, but you could never hold your hands around him.
After having a pet squirrel, I could never shoot squirrels again. Newborn baby squirrels make great pets, but you can't tame a young or an adult squirrel! Believe me, I've tried - once wild, always wild.
I miss Nutsey. He and myself liked to pick on Bess - now I have to do it on my own.