Everything has changed in our critter population since we started the feral colony. Before, we used to have tons of birds that came to several feeders off the deck and small critters like chipmunks and voles scampering around. Now, there are only cats roaming the property. We have rescued two sets of baby squirrels, raised them to adulthood, and released them back to the wild. Those squirrels used to come back on a regular basis to get peanuts from us. Most of them have been killed or driven off by the feral cats. I remember the first time I saw a dead squirrel a cat had killed. Flip, one of the ferals had it and hovered over it for days keeping it all to himself. The back yard has become their killing fields much to our horror. We didn’t realize this would be part of the deal. It’s hard to deal with the killing of innocent animals. It’s just hard to deal with killing of any creature.
Little girl showed up the other day. She was in the last litter we raised. Her little teets showed signs of suckling so I know she has babies. She was ravenous and ate for over an hour. I don’t think the mother squirrel leaves the nest for anything but to find food. When she lived inside with us the winter we found her she lived in an enclosure inside the screened in porch where eventually she could come and go to the outside. We keep her and her two brothers over the winter and in spring we opened, the outside door so that they could come and go whenever they wanted. Many a time I would come out to the porch at lunchtime and Little Boy would be snuggled in his nest inside the enclosure. Most squirrels sleep in the middle of the day and forage during the morning and evening hours. When they got more independent, they would only come on the outside of the enclosure where we had a small house that has a platform where they would wait to get fed. We would sit on the porch chairs and fed them. This was before the feral cats, when they could feel safe to run on the deck. They even tolerated our inside cats that they had grown accustomed to over the winter as they were growing up. Even when we let our inside cats out on the deck, they would still hang around and let us feed them. I could even call Little Girl’s name and I could see her way out in the trees and watch her as she made her way across the branches to our deck.
This has all changed with the ferals. They only see the squirrels as a source of food, even though we keep them well fed. Today when Little Girl came to eat, she would not go onto the little house connected to the enclosure. Apparently, something had her spooked and she wanted me to hang around so she could feel safe enough to come down the tree and jump across to the screened in porch roof so she could get a peanut. After many trips like this, the ferals at my feet, and her nervously coming down the tree, jumping across to the roof, back to the tree and up on the house roof then disappearing over the ridge line, I started to get suspicious of what she was doing with the peanuts. This activity went on for over an hour and I think she had taken at least twenty peanuts up onto the roof when I realized she was probably stashing them in the gutters. Well that was it and she had had enough for the day. I’m sure she will be back tomorrow and we will go through the whole routine over again. It would kill me if I thought it was my negligence that got her killed by not being available to be her security guard.