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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Not really a pet per se, but a critter I've grown quite fond of.

3-4 years ago, while sitting on my front porch, a grey squirrel hopped over to me, mostly unafraid. It took a sip from a sundial/water basin nearby and just sat there watching me from it - about four feet away. It had a healed notch/cut in its left ear, so I called it "Notch".

I went inside and got my jar of peanut-butter-filled pretzels and came back out and tossed it one. It took it, chowed down, got another sip of water, and waited for another one. It got about five that day before it started burying them. The next time I went to the store, I got a small bag of peanuts in the event the little critter might be interested. Due to dental problems, I can't "do" peanuts anymore, so these were for it alone.

For the rest of the year, it would come up to me on the porch and I gradually got it to eat from my hand. Cute little guy, and our almost daily sessions were ones I looked forward to.

About two years ago, it came up to me for our almost-daily feeding time and its left eye was hanging out of it socket. It was in bad shape, but that didn't interfere with its appetite. As the days progressed, the eyeball eventually disappeared, but its forehead was pretty much devoid of fur and skin. It was heartbreaking to see this and not being able to do anything for it. For several weeks it didn't return and I feared the worse; nature can be cruel.

But then one day it returned for its ration of peanuts, patiently awaiting for me to shell them and strip off the "paper". The eye was completely gone and the socket healed over. Its scalp had also re-grown. Aside from that, it acted normally.

After a fashion, it no longer returned and I accepted that the inevitable end had occurred for Notch. That was at least two years ago.

This morning, while out on the porch, I saw a squirrel on our fence, about 40' away and I called to it - hoping to get another one to eat from my hand. It came over and hopped up on the porch and it was Notch! How that fellow has survived so long with only one eye in a high-threat environment I'll never know, but there it was, and without missing a beat. I went inside (it waited), got some shelled peanuts, and we had a wonderful time with it eating from my hand. It was, perhaps, the most wonderful feeling I've had for several years, and something to really look forward to each morning now. Glad I have a full jar of shelled peanuts!

This little guy is at the elder end of a typical grey squirrel's lifespan, and I don't know how old it was when it befriended me. But it seems it has adapted to having only one eye, survived the hawks and owls, and is thriving and in otherwise great shape. Outer end of their lifespan is 12 years, so I'm hoping we'll get there, or close.

This on the the day following rabbits reliably returning to our neighborhood after a several-year hiatus, the deer now reappearing, and the spotting of a VERY young fawn in our main pasture, expressing an interest in one of our horses out there grazing. Five other deer were out there, too.

Life is good! Seeing "Notch" brought tears to my aging eyes...I had sadly accepted that he was "no more" last year. Should probably re-name it "Lazarus"...
 

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Thank you for sharing such a great story.
Hope you and Notch have a long time togeather!

Ron
 

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Great story. Hope you and Notch have many years together.

And after that, you can have all the squirrels you want from my yard. They like peanuts too.
 

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A long time ago when my kids were young they are now in their 40ties I was in my yard and noticed a squirrel nest or what was left of it laying on the grass and it had two baby squirrels in it who had not opened their eyes yet. One was a male and the other a female, I had a big fish aquarium empty of course and I put them in it with wood shavings on the bottom. I got a doll baby bottle about 2 inches long and put a small hole in the nipple and filled it up with baby formular and the two little squirrels would suck the bottom out of it and want more so I fed them all they could take. I put a folded paper sack in the bottom of the fish tank and they would get under it and sleep. Too make a long story short the male died after about a week but the female thrived and it wasn't long until I moved her outside into a screened round fish trap and I stood it on its end and it was about 6 ft tall 3 ft wide. I made her a little box for shelter from the rain and fed her sunflower seeds and corn. She would get a mouthfull of sunflower seed and the hulls would come out of he mouth like a machinegun, she really liked the seed. We named her chipette and she would let us handle her but she did not like my wife. She got so big and heavy that I knew it was time to release her she was a perfect example of a fox squirrel. She had never climbed a tree and the day I released her I put her on the side of a 50 foot red oak and she went straight to the top and was hanging onto the smallest twigs I thought she would fall but she made it. For about a week she would lay on the roof and agitate my dogs and suddenly she was gone and we never saw her again. The funny thing about this story is for a long time everytime we saw a squirrel in the yard the boys would say that it must be Chipette. That is my experience with raising a squirrel.
 

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Many years ago I saw a Bluejay in my back yard with one foot turned under . I had some peanuts that were given to me so I started putting a few out for him. He would get about four feet from me and if there weren't any peanuts he would swawk at me until I put some out. This went on for several weeks until one day he was moving much slower. After that I never saw him again.
 

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Several years ago i saw a wagtail on my porch that was acting strange. I noticed his right leg was crippled and hanging backwards under him, and he was balancing on his left leg. I figured maybe he had been in an accident or had a Close encounter with a cat. For a short moment i figured about putting him out of his misery, but decided to let nature figure his destiny out itself. He (she?) made the summer and even came with their little ones in the summer and seemed to solve the parenting OK.
Came fall, and the birds migrated South. Winter and spring passed- and when the wagtails came back in the spring i recognised to my great joy that my Little one- legged friend was back. He probably enjoyed staying at my Place, getting a new litter and making my day better while sitting in the yard drinking coffee.
It MUST have been the same bird: That two different wagtails with similar damages nested at my Place is not likely.
3 years this Little fellow came back to the same Place in Sweden, having made it to Africa every Winter, passed Southern Europé where they shoot at anything that flies, passed the nets the Egyptians set up to Catch small birds, survived and navigated back to the same Place in Sweden and bless my yard with his presence.
Amazing
 

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Very cool story, thanks for sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I hope to follow up regularly. I have got to admit it was one of the best feelings when I recognized Notch.
Many years ago, my Fi (avatar) dug into a rabbit nest, innocently. Out came a baby rabbit, un-scathed from the digging (its sibling wasn't so lucky). Our Fi watched over this baby rabbit, who chose to wander into the gravel drive several times. Our Fi would stand over it and protecting it. Despite my repeated efforts to get it back into its nest, it would come back out to the driveway - to the protection of our Fi.

This happened throughout the day, but when evening came, we we concerned about the little fella's safety: mostly from hawks and owls and racoons. So we took him into the house: he would not stay in his nest! We were also concerned since he blended in so well with the gravel drive, didn't move, and was subject to our driving.

Good old Star (yes, we named him) lived for about a week with feedings in our kitchen and outings with us (he preferred climbing into our hands), but sadly he passed. Turned out baby rabbits need their momma's poop to eat for probiotics. Their survival rate is slim outside of a trained person. So despite out good intention, Star passed and is buried on our land, deeply so as his mortal remains are not desecrated, and always honored. Our Fi would have loved nurturing him.

I like to think she would do the same for Notch. She loved chasing squirrels - even caught one that she let loose. But she was a loving one.

Didn't see Notch this AM, but am comforted he/she is around. Can't help but think of him/her every time I see peanuts in the store!

In the interim, I'm happy to see our "house bunny" that I rescued from one of our barn cats, and this morning, TWO gate bunnies (up from one) by our mailbox.

I re-filled the sundial/water dish, so Notch and his buddies have some easy water. Would leave peanuts out on the porch, but they attract the ants...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My wife would figure out a way to get him inside. She has done it before. Great story, can you get us a photo sometime?
Mark, I'll work on it, but gotta get a camera ready. My wife is the photographer...I just enjoy what I see without bothering with cameras...

No-go yesterday, but Notch was back again this AM (later in the day), with another squirrel watching from a distance (perhaps Notch's co-conspirator from years past).

Out of my hand again. Notch has to be at least four years old, had what appears to be a few small tumors on its front feet, but very much happy, in otherwise good health, and tame enough to eat from my fingers - ever so gently.

We have enjoyed the wildlife on our farm (my first) and don't grow anything, so critters that are normally considered vermin for a farmer are welcome here. We love our rabbits and ground-hogs and racoons and possum. Even the occasional skunk. Tree frogs and toads and bullfrogs abound and sing us songs every night. 'Yotes and foxes are very rare lately. Box turtles occasionally visit.

Several years ago (when we had several hanging and ground-feeder feeders on our elevated deck), the squirrels were abundant. They loved the spare birdseed and we (and our two dogs) enjoyed the antics of the squirrels from within the confines of our screened-in porch. It was not uncommon to have a dozen of them at one time. They never phased the birds and gave all of us great entertainment, so it was not a problem to provide us all happiness for the low cost of birdseed.

As time progressed, we would enjoy their rather populous presence in the AM but it came tome for morning horse chores. That entailed driving from the house down to the barn area. Our two dogs (a Great Dane and a Terrihuahua) would accompany my wife to the barn. The dozen or so squirrels on the deck, reflexively, would jump down from the deck to head to their "safe space" tree. Our two dogs would position themselves between the deck and the "safe-space" trees, and the excitement/chase was on. This went on for several years. I noticed our Terrihuahua, chasing after a squirrel, wasn't running as fast as I knew she could (and neither was the squirrel!). It was great fun for both! My Fi (avatar) wasn't agile enough to really catch any of them, but was wonderfully entertained with "the chase". I on case, she did catch one (a fluke), but she let it go without harm. Both were likely surprised!

I miss them all. Notch is a pleasant reminder of good times.
 

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Great story, thanks for sharing.
Love hunting tree rats with my mountain curs!
Don't bother the ones around the house, I like watching them to.
 
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