Meet El Thicko.

June 17, 2016

Red Squirrel 2

When it comes to acquiring food, we have come to associate squirrels as the grand master of the ‘Free Lunch’ whether it is appearing cute in a public park,Begging Squirrel   Begging !



Stealing from bird feeders Stealing

To the grand Olympics

They are the champions, well mostly…Please allow me to introduce the exception that proves the rule, I give you El Thicko who has to be the dumbest squirrel I have ever come across.

Red Squirrel 3

OK long story, slightly shortened version, I suppose like everyone else I look at the various antics of squirrels as cute. However, here in the UK we have two distinct types, the native Red and the imported upstart the Grey.Red Squirrel gray squirrel

Unfortunately, the Grey Squirrel is a little larger and therefore stronger than the Red. The Grey has no natural predators and has therefore managed to out-compete the Reds for food and territory, displacing the Red in large tracts of land in the UK. What is even worse for the native Red squirrel is that the Grey squirrels carry the deadly squirrelpox virus, which is fatal to the Reds.

In most places, especially in the countryside the Grey can be extremely destructive to young trees and are considered as pests and vermin. In remote pockets where the Red squirrel has a tenuous foothold, there are even measures to try to eradicate the Greys to give the natives a better chance of survival.

Here on the Isle of Wight we are lucky, being an island it is a Stronghold for the Red however, the odd Grey does find its way to the Island every now and then. It is actually illegal to bring a grey squirrel into red squirrel territory and the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment or £5,000 fine.

Anyway back to my new friend, El Thikco, here on the island, the Islanders are naturally proud of being a sort of remote outpost and host to the Red squirrel population and they do everything imaginable to help and encourage them. This includes a variety of road signs (sign image ) although I have to admit I cannot imagine El Thicko learning to drive, slowly or otherwise.

Sorry, I digress there are a number of squirrel feeders on the market squirrel feeder they look a bit like a bird box but without the hole. Also unlike bird feeders, there is no gravity feed so you actually have to lift the lid to get to the food inside. Not exactly, Rocket Science and you would think for a squirrel something akin to a stroll in the park.

Not for El Thicko, he is to Squirrels what I am to the art of DIY, not the smartest on the planet. Yet in the great British spirit of ‘Doing my Bit’ taking my life in my hands with ladder and power tools, I eventually got the new feeder in place.

I did that weeks ago and although El Thicko has paid a few inspection visits he carried on with his normal routine of hurtling up or down the tree at a great rate of knots not bothering to stop. I had the feeling that he may have originally been annoyed that I had deliberately put the stupid box thing in his way.

Anyway, the lid is on a simple hinge, which squirrels are supposed to master after a few simple tries, the lid is top heavy so it closes by itself after the visit keeping the food dry.

In an effort to help and or educate I used a small stick to hold the lid up, I even put a few nuts out on the little platform as a hint. It kinda worked, he arrived at his usual speed, en-route to the treetop but obviously the free nuts got his attention and he stopped for a snack. He also must have seen the open hatch and went for a closer look knocked the stick out of the way the door dropped and in his panic, he fell off the platform.

Round two, I replaced the stick with a pinecone and a couple of days ago I noticed it had gone; when I looked closer I found it on the ground mostly eaten. Thicko had taken the pinecone and the door closed on him again.

Round three; I replace the pinecone and the next time I found it gone I noticed the platform had bits of chewed nuts on it, so he obviously went in for a feed before grabbing the cone as a takeaway.

Yet again, I replaced the cone, you can see it in the picture behind his left ear.100_2352

He is now actually eating the nuts, after he left I noticed he has worked out what the pine nut was for and left it for next time.

The good news is, as at yesterday El Thicko has puzzled it out and finally joined all the dots.

True he had another scare fighting to free the pinecone only this time he was half-ready for the gravity attack because I saw his back legs were firmly on the tree.

The lid closed behind him and dropping the cone he returned to the platform sitting there for a while staring into space as well as the pinecone on the ground. His next move was running a little way up the tree turning around and looking at the lid from above before coming back down and sitting on the lid.

When that didn’t do anything he went back to the platform, this time when he turned round I think he must have hit the lid with his head because two seconds later he was in.

So I’m hoping that he or she is at least smart enough to find a mate and bring them to tea, if they manage to hang onto their territory then they will have a ready supply of nuts for the winter.

Just so long as El Thicko remembers the combination of the nut safe !


4 Responses to “Meet El Thicko.”

  1. Thanks for this wonderful blog post which made me smile and giggle. It’s downright cute… but I can’t get over it how you talk about poor “El Thicko”. LOL (Just kidding) I had tons of fun!! 😀

  2. merlinfraser Says:

    Thanks AJ, he ain’t the sharpest tool in the box that’s fer sure ?
    Haven’t seen him today, I think his next lesson might have to be map reading…. !

  3. Which just goes to prove generalisations are dangerous – it’s rather like saying every Welshman can sing. I just hope he has sufficient savvy to survive; after all, it’s tough out there (wait a minute, though, aren’t we talking about the Isle of Wight?).

  4. merlinfraser Says:

    Hi Frederick, thanks for stopping by with your comments, the Isle of Wight isn’t a tough place to survive.

    OK there are many thing you have to adapt to like, trying to be polite to tourist…. Driving in convoy…. never being able to drive fast enough to get your car into top gear…. Trying to go shopping in places where aged residents consider it a flash mod fun day trip. Attempting to visit a GP’s surgery to a) Find a GP. b) Get an appointment (ever) c) trying to get out of the health centre without more things wrong than you went in with.

    The Isle of Wight is most definitely the Home of the Terminally Bewildered.

    It’s like the blood referendum that’s been going on for the last 3 months…. Staying In or Getting Out of the EU

    10% Have already made up their mind but can’t remember what it
    15% Don’ know what EU stands for.
    5% Do know but can’t remember joining.
    20% Ask if we leave do they get the membership fees back ?
    25% Don’t think the Isle of Wight is an EU member so it doesn’t
    matter what they think.
    And the rest don’t give a shit so long as the ferry prices don’t go up.

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