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Ninja Squirrels: Origin

Loaded with sweetness and personalities, it’s hard not to fall in love with these furry little beasts. 

I have a thing for squirrels … true ninjas in disguise. They’re incredibly social, agile, witty and full of personality, they’re the most under appreciated, highly intelligent, wicked talented, skillful little creatures that live in the “underground” of most neighborhoods. Full of resilience and the ability to develop and thrive among us. They’re pretty amazing in my book. I’ve probably watched way too many martial arts movies in my lifetime and can’t help but find the similarities between ninjas and squirrels.

Adolescent ninjas in training. FYI it is really hard to capture two squirrels let alone get a selfie with them.

When I’m not cooking you could probably find me outside feeding the neighborhood. I’d love to have pets, but due to a rigorous work travel schedule, it’s difficult. The wild and free backyard ninjas offer a great alternative for now.

My first connection was when i was young, with the Gooch, found among the pine needles in New Hampshire. Eyes shut, shivering cold and no mama in sight, we took him in and raised him and, like most squirrels, he was batshit crazy (or so it seemed), spastic … yet coordinated, acrobatic and skilled with ninja-like moves, curious and kind.

Zelda drinking coffee (hazelnut, of course)

Flash forward to Zelda, the now queen back yard ninja, of the PNW. She’s NOT fictional, nor is she a rescue … she’s wild with sharp claws, teeth and a sweet sense about her.  She’s not aggressive like some I’ve encountered.  She’ll appear out of nowhere a couple times a week, often at the front door. She’s gotten pretty comfortable over the years, so when there is time, I’d set up small scenes to photograph her in, like this one of her seemingly drinking some local coffee. Who would’ve known we had so much in common?!

Hank & Mildred, recent rescues.



Adolescent ninjas, enjoying a mean game of red light green light … they can freeze like no other!
Holding Hank & Mildred on location at the Wicked Healthy cookbook shoot.
Here’s a shaming squirrel shot of Hank after I had left him in a spare room temporarily (for perhaps a little to long) unchaperoned and he decided to chew through the guest aero bed I had set up. Shame on me.
Sweetness overload!
Ninja relocation release home, found on Etsy, when attached up in a tree it provides safety from predators likes cats, raccoons and politicians.
Mildred Loving, perched on the porch.
Mildred, full grown and ready for release.
The day they were released – Hank on deck.
Ninja squirrels are hours of entertainment and great for photography practice. All the concern with feeding birds, I suggest feeding all the critters, birds and squirrels are not predators and co-exsist watching out for one another. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Birds will always pick up the pieces and back yard ninjas are fun to watch and can be trained.

Local wildlife refuges are all around and its easy to learn how to become a foster parent. A couple of things I have learned as a ninja foster parent:

  • Ninjas don’t sit still … it’s probably all the coffee they drink.
  • Hooded sweatshirts act as a good caregiving uniform to wear when handing them. Think sharp claws: you’re like a tree and their natural instincts take over.
  • Patience, kindness and treats (mostly nuts) are the best approach to catching/training or befriending critters inside or outside the house.
  • They eat veggies and nuts … I’d consider them closet vegetable eaters. I thought they just lived off of nuts but they love greens and veggies too!
  • They will climb anything and everything and can do so with ease … never underestimate them!
  • They are wild animals, always on alert and should ultimately be outside.
  • They play A LOT and like to wrestle!
  • They grunt, purr and squeak, making all kinds of noises to communicate both soft and loud.
  • It is hard NOT to get attached to their genuine sweetness.

If you find a baby squirrel, here’s some information about how to raise a baby squirrel and what to do.  Be sure to check with your local state laws to make sure they won’t euthanize them if you call them in. Yes, some states do that!

Squirrels are among some of the smartest animals in the world!

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