May 24, 2011

The Beirut City Squirrel

You’re familiar with the term ‘sewer alligator’ ; the cute little pet alligator that just grew too large for its owner and ended up flushed down the toilet. Every city has a few animals on the loose – whether on purpose or by accident - that may not necessarily be indigenous to that urban environment.

There are stories of exotic snakes that escape their owners and slither around the city street, cheetahs that prowl the street  and wallabies that thump around town.

Even Beirut has a fair amount of exotic animals on the loose. I frequently have exotic parrots on my balcony that would do well in the jungles of South America. And a couple of years ago a Komodo dragon was spotted roaming the gardens of Rabieh residents while devouring their pets.

And I’m afraid I’ve added another animal to that; the urban squirrel.

I’ve had this squirrel for some  12 years now. He was an impromptu gift from an Iranian neighbor who said he had to go for business back to Iran, and could I just look after them for ten days, and then he never ever showed up again. I got quite used to him. Squirrels in captivity can live some 14 to 20 years. But last month he decided he had had enough. He left his cage and has been roaming our building. He runs straight up and down the wall of the building; twelve floors up and twelve floors down. I didn’t even know squirrels could do that, but this is one heck of an urban squirrel. He nibbles at the curtains of the 9th floor, and eats the flowers of the 6th floor. He chews on the potatoes that the 1st floor has stored on the balcony, and on the wooden balcony chairs of the 8th floor. And every now and then, he comes back up to the roof, where I still fill his food tray and water.

And so I present to you the Beirut city squirrel. I hope he finds a mate soon.


Anonymous said...

Awwwww that is one of the cutest post !! I love squirrels ^^ I didn't know we had squirrels in Lebanon , I've never seen one. On the other hand , Squirrels are rather ubiquitous in Canada. They eat our backyard cherries before it even matures.

htj said...

"I hope he finds a mate soon."

I have a whole lot of squirrels in my backyard that would love a new home. If you can find a way to get them from Washington, DC to Beirut, you can have them all.

In the spring of last year, I initialed "Operation Exodus", whereby, I trapped 13 squirrels, and relocated them to the Promised Land: A nice big park in suburban Maryland, about 20 miles away, filled with huge oak trees and a beautiful wide lake. My squirrels were spoiled. They enjoyed the finest acorns and liked to dig up only expensive plants. I am convinced the local nursery had them on retainer.

I did enjoy last summer virtually squirrel free. But by late autumn, the neighborhood squirrels sensed the void left by my relocated squirrels, and slowly but surely, they filled that void. This spring, it seems like I have more squirrels then I did last year. I think I'll have to initiate another operation (to be named later) to relocate the new arrivals.

You see, there is no shortage of squirrels here. Yours can have a mate and plenty of friends as well.