January 21st Marked National Squirrel Appreciation Day. The day was created by Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator, in 2001. The day was created to appreciate the creatures and to encourage people to show kindness towards the animals by providing them with food and water. Which is exactly what I did.

In Twickenham, you can find the picturesque estate that is York House and its gardens. The gardens are a prime spot for hand-feeding some curious squirrels. It was not the first time I had fed these animals here (probably the third) but I had not done it in many years. So off I went on a crisp January morning, friend in tow, to find some squirrels. 

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed a distinct lack of squirrels and realised this was going to be a lot harder than I initially anticipated. My friend and I tried many tactics that included shaking our bags of assorted nuts, occasionally dropping a couple on the floor to hopefully entice them and even making what we thought were squirrel noises (a quick Google upon our return showed us that we were very wrong). In the end, it took our 4th lap of the estate to find one. This shows that patience is key here and that couldn’t be even more true till it came to attempting to give them food.

Our one squirrel (who was named Fred respectively) was surrounded by a bunch of hungry crows. So as one of us would try to feed Fred the other would try to get the crows out of the way so as not to spook him. My friend Mei Hammond-Tse who accompanied me quickly realised that either Fred was “scared” or he “didn’t like me very much”. After watching her try to feed Fred and having my go battling with the crows I decided to have a go. I had to crouch down to be on the squirrel’s level and remain very still so as not to scare it. There were about two minutes where he just stood staring at me in case I would attack, it is at this point where it is key not to move too much. As soon as Fred realised I was no threat he came over and took the nut from my fingers and put it in his mouth. Truly one of the sweetest things I have seen in a while.

So, if you have a love for animals and want to celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day or just want to have some fun with friends, go and pay a visit to York House Gardens and try feeding a squirrel. It is a must-do on any animal lovers' bucket list for 2024 but, maybe try to go when it is warmer to avoid getting cold fingers.