Squirrels, foxes and snow

by Richard Jones

I don't think the squirrels liked the snow [...] In south-east London we only had 3 or 4 inches but that's as high as a squirrel's eye hereabouts.

Squirrel peering through a cat flapI don't think the squirrels liked the snow. Apart from the fact that they found it difficult to retrieve their buried nuts, each time they hopped, they were completely engulfed in the stuff. In south-east London we only had 3 or 4 inches but that's as high as a squirrel's eye hereabouts.

I have to admit that we've been feeding the squirrels recently. My five-year-old delights in chucking out walnuts and peanuts through the cat flap. This has had the side effect that the squirrels have become rather inquisitive and it is not unusual to find whiskered rodent features peering in through the transparent perspex flap. Luckily none of them have quite worked out what to do next.

The fox was also poking about in the snow on Saturday. It was gingerly mincing through the fresh blanket sniffing for whatever it is in our garden that foxes sniff for. The squirrel did not see the fox, snow in its eye perhaps, but the fox saw his quarry immediately. He lowered his profile and spread his weight, tensing his back with that wiggle thing cats do when they stalk something. Then the spring was released. The fox bolted forwards, right towards us as we stood transfixed in the kitchen. The squirrel was anything but fixed and dived through the fennel twigs, over the iris and up the metal stairs of the fire escape before you could blink. The fox was so close on its tail, but was defeated by the hand break turn at the bottom of the stairs. So close.

The snow has gone now, and over the next few days I'll try and take a census of the local squirrels. It will not surprise me if their numbers are down.

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Gardeners' World Web User 08/12/2010 at 18:22

sadly i have found 6 dead grey squirrels in the last 10 days or so...i have checked them and none of them had cuts etc on them.... why??? i saw the first 4 in about 5 days while walking my dog....within a mile of,and the 1 in my back garden and the other 1 out the front of my garden,,,again i checked them for cuts etc [none had them[. also my sister had a dead grey squirrel on her drive last sunday.she thinks it was a young 1 as it was rather small.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/12/2010 at 12:25

My grey squirrel chased away the birds to eat their seed and crumbs and the fox's footprints led right to my back door. Snow gone now so went out to see what had fared best plantwise and it was my golden feverfew. Its lime green was so cheering and the red pyracantha berries have survived and thawed out so there are still some for the birds, probably much sweeter now if they do the same as the grapes and grow sweeter after the frost. It would be interesting to hear what has fared best in this early winter in other bloggers' gardens.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/12/2010 at 09:52

The snow brought us redwings and gold finches who feasted on holly berries and teasel. We also have regular visits from three foxes which are from this years litter.They "pole valt into our garden despite neighbours putting up 6' fences. One in paticular has taken to arriving(despite an injured paw)at about noon and sittingon my garden table on the patio and staring into the living room through the patio doors. When all else fails he comes up to the glass and scrapes ii with his paw to getmy attention. When I finally relent, he feasts on ox liver,dog food, lamb bones....etc. Then as a thank you they run away with my old net curtains that I use to protect my plants!But occasionally they bring me the odd boot, glove,trainer and flipflop!

Gardeners' World Web User 16/12/2010 at 19:38

I hate the thought of urban foxes proliferating and wish people wouldn't feed them. Oh, i know we've taken over their habitat, etc, but they can be very nasty (witness the attack on babies last year). I worry about my cats - I can just hear the cat-haters getting started and yes, I wish they wouldn't poo in your garden too - as one day a fox chased my Burmese and I don't think it wanted to play with her. I wonder what others think: do you know of any cats that were killed/injured by foxes, and how can we humanely get rid of them? My local council refuses to address the issue.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/12/2010 at 14:31

Foxes don't like the smell of urine. A farmer friend of ours used to hang old sacks on the fences and encourage her menfolk to pee on them. That kept the foxes away!!

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