Coplay couple is nuts about squirrels
Her T-shirt doesn't lie.
When Sue Sacks of Coplay opened a Christmas gift from her husband Mike, she laughed when she saw the two adorable squirrels above the words, "Squirrel Whisperer."
But in her heart she knew the shirt spoke the truth.
She attracts squirrels the way a big bowl of nuts would draw them.
"I am nutty," she jokes, adding that her home displays an unusual greeting to visitors: "Welcome to the nut house."
Her special bond with wild critters began more than 15 years ago, she recalls, during family camping vacations in Hickory Run State Park, north of Jim Thorpe.
"I've been feeding the squirrels, chipmunks and deer there forever," she said.
She decided to try her luck at home.
"If I can get squirrels to take a peanut out of my hand in Hickory Run, why not in my own yard?" she wondered.
She and her husband already had a wildlife-friendly backyard, with multiple shrubs and trees, including a walnut tree the squirrels love.
Mike installed three nesting boxes in the trees in their yard, and "so far the squirrels have had six litters in there," Sue said with pride.
Some of their squirrels come running when the couple calls them.
"They run around us and sometimes crawl on us," as they look for nuts, she said.
One female squirrel, which they named Bobbie, is especially "super-friendly," Sue said.
"I don't know where in the neighborhood Bobbie lives, but she comes running when we call her. She crawls up on our shoulders."
How do neighbors react to the "nut house" in their midst?
"No one complains about the squirrels," Sue said.
"One grandma brings her grandkids down our way to throw nuts to the squirrels. And a man up the street is trying to lure them to his yard with almonds, which he says are more desirable than peanuts," she said. "They're taken care of around here."
She recalls a mail carrier teasing her about "training squirrels to attack people," when one of her regular furry visitors climbed into his mail pouch searching for nuts.
Even as a child, Sue liked to be around animals. "I'm animal oriented," she said.
Indeed she is. She and her husband currently have four pet cats in the house, and she owns a professional pet sitting business.
"Mostly, I take care of pet dogs, cats, birds, fish and frogs," she said.
The chubby little squirrels who live in her backyard and neighborhood act like wild, outdoor pets, sometimes demanding the same amount of attention an indoor pet receives.
"We were sitting on the sofa in the summer watching TV and had the inside door open. We heard a knocking sound at the screen door and looked up. It was Bobbie," Sue said.
"Bobbie climbed the screen to look in at us. She was knocking for nuts. We laughed," she said, chuckling.
Other squirrels have been seen looking in the windows. The intelligent little beggars know exactly whose house to visit when they're in the mood for a tasty handout.
And, of course, the squirrels always get their way.