You've all heard me talk about a squirrel that I named Miss Ernie. Well let me tell you how she got that name. The first squirrel I trained was a male and I called him Ernie. From the start, Ernie was friendly and it was quite easy to get him to run down the hand railing on the deck and jump on my shoulder and down my shirt to get a peanut from my lap.
Sandra and I got great pleasure from Ernie. The babies would get excited to feed Ernie and watch him climb on Papa. Then Ernie brought his honey. A female squirrel started coming around. She was a little more timid and I started calling her "Miss Ernie." I could not get her to climb on my shoulder. But she watched Ernie get his peanuts from my lap and would stand up on her hind legs at my feet and beg. So I'd reach down and give her one.
One early spring day I didn't give her one fast enough so she climbed up my sweat pants and I gave her one. She really liked that. Soon she'd come bouncing across the deck and up my pant leg to my lap for her morning peanuts.
Ernie would run down the railing, jump on my shoulder and down my shirt for his breakfast. Oh, we had such a good time. Then one warm spring morning I went out and sat down and here they came. Ernie got his peanut and jumped over to eat it on the railing and Miss Ernie watched. Then, here she came as fast as she could and right up my leg she climbed but she climbed rather slowly this morning because I didn't have sweat pants on. Yeah - shorts. Miss Ernie climbed up my bare leg.
I tried to not react for fear of frightening her and ruining all my patient training so I gave her the peanut and she climbed back down; she usually jumped. But this morning she climbed down my bare leg. Now I'm here to testify that squirrel claws are "much" sharper than even kitten claws.
I slowly got up and walked in the house through tear filled eyes and got a paper towel to wipe them. Then I went and put on some sweat pants for the rest of their breakfast.
Later when I told Sandra what had happened, she was quite amused.