That time I pissed off a squirrel

Angry-squirrel-1600-1200It was lovely yesterday; last week was basically the first nice week of the year, and it’s projected to be seventy degrees tomorrow.  So we decided to take the boy to the zoo, which was open for all of three hours to people with memberships.

I like our zoo.  It’s nothing enormously special as zoos go, but for a town this size I’d say they do pretty well, and most of the animals were at least out of their enclosures and hanging out where people could look at them.  The emus were booming, too, which is always a neat thing, because I think emus are neat animals and they’re startlingly loud.

But I don’t actually want to talk about any of the regular animals.  We were walking past the anteater (who came outside to piss as we walked past; every time we go to this zoo, we get to see the anteater take a piss) and past the (empty) macaw enclosure when I heard a weird noise from overhead.   I thought at first it was the macaw, but after looking around a bit more we realized it was a squirrel.

A squirrel, in a tree, busily eating a Styrofoam cup.  The odd sound of squirrel teeth on Styrofoam was what I’d heard.


“You’re not supposed to be eating those,” I called out to the squirrel.  He dropped the cup.

Feeling proud of myself– I had communicated with a squirrel!– I went to pick the cup up. And the squirrel barreled down the tree, chattering at me angrily, and causing me, for the first time in my life, to consider how interested I was in starting shit with an overgrown rat.

My son, of course, was nearby, and terribly interested in the squirrel.  The squirrel was screeching at me for getting too close to his coffee cup, and bystanders were starting to take an interest in the whole thing.  I mean, this cup is gonna kill him if he swallows too much of it.  I’m a person, squirrel!  I’m smarter than you!  You don’t want to eat this thing!

Holy crap, can squirrels do effective death glares.

Anyway, eventually, once the I’m-not-joking standoff ended, with the squirrel deciding there were too many people around and retreating a few feet back up the tree, I kicked the half-eaten cup (which appeared to have contained hot chocolate, which explained why he was eating it) away from him and picked it up.

Holy hell was that the wrong thing to do.

About thirty feet away from the squirrel’s tree is a life-size statue of a Galapagos tortoise that little kids are encouraged to climb on.  My son, being three, wanted to climb on the tortoise, and my wife wanted to take his picture.  I couldn’t find a trashcan nearby, so I just sort of stood near them, holding the cup.

The squirrel came down the tree, stood about twenty feet away from us, and just glared.  The whole time. Seriously.  He’d have killed me if he could.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never made a nonhuman animal that mad at me before.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

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