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.