A mother's plea: No peanuts for squirrels | April 16, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 16, 2010

A mother's plea: No peanuts for squirrels

Benignly offered to wildlife, peanuts can be life-threatening to people with allergies

by Sue Dremann

Two-year-old Oliver Payne developed a severe case of hives in March after having his first taste of peanut butter. His worried parents, Ellen and Jonathan, rushed him to the hospital. Oliver was alright, but a pediatrician said if the boy is exposed to peanuts again, he could develop life-threatening anaphylaxis, a condition in which his throat would swell up and he could even stop breathing.

Then, just a few days later, the peanuts began to appear in the back yard.

"We removed all foods containing peanuts and tree nuts from our house to create a safer environment for our son. Imagine my dismay when I discovered peanuts in our back yard," Ellen Payne said.

At first she thought a handyman or construction worker had left the nuts, but after questioning workers she learned that no one had been snacking in the yard.

It didn't take long for the culprit to appear.

On Saturday morning, Payne spied a squirrel running on the fence clutching a nut shell, she said.

"A friend pointed out to me that many people enjoy feeding squirrels and leave nuts out for the animals to eat," she said.

The issue of stray peanuts and tree nuts is no trifling matter. Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-related death, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Three million people in the U.S. report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both and less than 21 percent will ever outgrow the allergy, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology reports.

Roughly one-third of persons with peanut allergies also are allergic to tree nuts, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

The likelihood that Oliver will encounter a peanut or tree nut as he plays in the back yard is increased as people put out bird and squirrel feeders, which often contain the nuts.

Squirrels "really do squirrel it away," according to Sandi Stadler, head of Palo Alto Animal Services.

The rodents just can't resist packing their cheeks full of the tasty fat- and protein-laden treats, and they can travel great distances to cache the food for the future or to feed their babies, she said.

Payne has yet to find the peanut source in her Midtown neighborhood. After Oliver's initial allergic reaction, she was tempted to post flyers around the neighborhood asking people to switch to less allergenic squirrel treats, but she decided to reach more residents by sending a plea through the Midtown Residents Association e-mail list, she said.

Given the population of peanut and allergy sufferers — 1 to 2 percent of Americans — she wonders how many other neighbors also are being exposed.

"Naturally the threat is worse with toddlers, who often put foreign objects into their mouths, but even some older children and adults have such severe food allergies that even being in close proximity to nuts can trigger an allergic reaction.

"I don't want to ask other people to stop feeding squirrels, which is something that so many others enjoy, but I would like to ask our Palo Alto neighbors to use safer alternatives, such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, corn or dried fruit — all of which are foods that squirrels enjoy but are not highly allergic to humans," she said.

Stadler said in all of her years of handling wildlife, the threat to human health by peanut- and nut-wielding squirrels is "absolutely new."

But she doesn't discount the threat to the health of squirrels — or any wildlife — that feeding them can cause. In short, Stadler doesn't recommend it.

"Feeding wildlife unnaturally brings a group (of animals) together," she said. When one animal gets sick, the illness quickly spreads, she added.

Palo Alto doesn't have an ordinance against feeding wildlife, although some cities do, including San Francisco, she said.

"How can you put a value on the pleasure some people receive from feeding wildlife? The squirrels are such clowns. But there are some real downsides to it," she said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

Though this isn't strictly about schools it IS about kids, hence the categorization of the thread.
I sympathize with this situation as I have known others with severe allergies, including small children.
We used to live in a nearby city. I know there used to be some outfit called county vector control that would try to control/reduce the rodent and other pest populations, but I guess budget cuts discontinued that service.
We have found peanut shells in OUR backyard, too, and since we are absolutely overrun with squirrels, it utterly mystifies me why people choose to feed squirrels! it's just nuts!

Posted by safinfrock, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:41 am

Suggest she go door to door in her immediate neighborhood and leave this article at everyone's front door.

Posted by DAISY, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:45 am



Posted by mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

We had rats in our attic last year. The exterminator said Palo Alto is full of rats because of all the bird feeders. For us, it was just gross and costly. I can only imagine if that issue was multiplied by a health worry as well.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

Probably another kid living on the same block is feeding the squirrels. I agree about going door-to-door to talk to the neighbors.

Posted by NutHead, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

Squirrels are basically just rats that are cute. Am I right? I have noticed the squirrels at Mitchell Park are getting kind of aggressive too. People must be feeding them. I remember when Cuesta park in Mountain View made the national news with the hyper-aggressive death squirrels. One of those $$%$# took an entire footlong sub off when I stepped away for one second. I haven't forgiven him and I want my $5.00 back.

While we are on the topic - I visited the duck pond recently and saw this mother and her 10 kids feeding the ducks despite signs every 3 feet saying not to. Does anyone have any respect for rules anymore?

Posted by Oh, brother!, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

Don't feed wild animals. It creates a dependency on humans that can be bad for the animal...and it can encourage aggressive behavior. Further, squirrels can carry illnesses that are dangerous for humans. Parents who allow their kids to do this are teaching an inhumane practise and they are endangering their children. Please don't feed the animals, especially the heavily overpopulated squirrels.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

Is it legal in Palo Alto to kill squirrels? If so, what's the recommended method.

Posted by Liza, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

Oh please,

Perhaps overfeeding the squirrels is not good for anyone, but how can people be saying to get rid of them.???
Isn't this what is happening all over the world.???
To get rid of 'things' 'people' 'animals' whatever for the good of a few.??

Let us all lighten up a bit, and leave life and it's huge amount of rules and protections alone.

Do you really want to live in this world all protected from everything???????

Posted by Shamima, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:49 am

I am fed up of the squirrels that come in our backyard and leave nothing on the plants and trees including fresh young leaves.
Anyone any suggestions?

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

I hate squirrels. The are always tearing up my lawn diging holes in it and when my trees bloom and bear fruit they break the branches climbing in the trees, rip the fruit off the branches, mostly unripe, take one bite, and then throw it on the ground and don't even eat it.

I am ready to go to war against squirrels... and would really appreciate to hear or find out what is the best way to get rid of them?

Posted by City of Trees, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:58 am

Our homes and neighborhoods are riddled with rodents: rats&squirrels. These rodents make their homes in the city canopy and transfer into our walls, homes, yards, cars. They should be eradicated, but are actually protected! they dig up the yard, eat the landscape, and lately, were caught sharpening their teeth on the outdoor metal furniture. Destroyed the furniture.
A call into Vector Control produced zero results, other than to learn that the squirrels are protected and advised to remove the furnishings.
The previous year, we spent thousands to repair chewed up wiring under the hood of the car.
We maintain our homes and outdoor spaces for their use and pleasure, certainly not our health, welfare and quality of life.
Insurance companies should allow a dedicated category of coverage for Rodent Infestation, Harm and Damage.

Posted by Squirrel Nutkin, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Why all of the hatred towards the cute furry squirrels? I grew up in Palo Alto and never heard of anyone catching a disease from a squirrel. My brother, who loved all animas, once raised baby squirrels in his bathroom. He was bitten and scratched but never suffered any ill effects. Please note: squirrels do not make good pets; my brother released them into the back yard when they had matured. Squirrels and nut bearing trees evolved together, each dependent on the other for survival. Many people think that in urban areas squirrels are a pest, but I strongly disagree. Perhaps humans are the pest. I do agree that we shouldn't feed squirrels as food naturally growing in trees is plentiful and more healthful.

Posted by Squirrely, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Rather than shooting or killing the critters, one method we have found successful is to put aside an area with some cracked corn, which is available at pet and feed stores. We put the corn in an area away from the garden and have no trouble with the squirrels at all.

When they ate my rare roses, we added a bag of walnuts to the pots. The squirrels went for the nuts and not the plants. It's a matter of providing a tastier choice than your flowers and vegetables.

For anyone who thinks it is wrong to feed wildlife, here's a better suggestion: Plant a few nut trees. Squirrels love California black walnuts and in famine years will eat the flower buds. it doesn't seem to harm the trees.

Cats are also good deterrents, but they often kill the squirrels.

Please remember that most of the critters die in the first year of life because they are hit by cars. Many die of starvation in rural areas. They have a tough life.

Posted by ND, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

We had these weird birds drop crab legs into our backyard and we lives miles from the ocean. It was disgusting and we thought that the birds were raiding someone's trash. After identifying the birds as blue herons, we learned that they do fly miles away to the ocean to catch crabs, then carry them back to the nest to feed their young. Unfortunately animals do bring unhealthy things into our backyards, and there is only so much we can control out there. I agree that you should talk to your neighbors about the feeders.

Posted by Shannon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Buy a dog. You won't have any more squirrels in your yard.

Posted by Tina, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I too have a son with severe nut allergies. We experienced our first anaphylaxis reaction at age two while eating trail mix together. He stopped breathing, required an ambulance and a trip to the hospital. I knew immediately when I saw his face what was happening and was able to start trying to secure an airway before he became unconscious. He had two other similar experiences at Grandma's at Christmas with chesnuts, and another with a cookie from an Auntie. He was three when he was able to ask if something had "seeds". This did not always work as the lunch lady at school once forced him to put trailmix on his lunch tray saying "eat it, it is good for you". Luckily, he did not eat it but just having it on his tray made his other food untouchable and he ended up reacting anyway. The school called me after using the "epi" pen.
Asking the community to change what they do will not work. The best approach is to spend endless hours teaching them what to ask and what to avoid. Kids will be kids. You just have to be the ones to change. Never accept food from anyone. Do not eat any cookies as most are processed on conveyor belts with nuts. Do not take snack from baseball after game treats, bring your own! Do not eat birthday cake, cupcakes, etc. at school. Do not eat Chinese food as most use peanut oil to cook and the surfaces will always have residual residue. Learn to live is our motto. When you go on trips in airplanes, take sanitary wipes to avoid the surfaces where many eat the peanuts provided. It really is not that hard to learn to live with this allergy. It requires that your child develop and early understanding of the seriousness of the condition and learn to live with it! Goodluck, keep an "epi" pen and let them live fully.

Posted by Eradicate, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Squirrels jeopardize our health and destroy our property.

Posted by Inga, a resident of Triple El
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Please do not feed squirrels any neighborhood. They are not cute, they are destructive rodents. We are overrun with these critters,they eat from our vegetable garden, from our fruit trees, even our cable wires. If your cat eats them the poor cat can become ill. There is
NO deterrent to get rid of squirrels we tried them all. They need to be controlled with traps and gotten rid of.

Posted by Linnea, a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Palo Alto should remove squirrels from protection and prohibit feeding them.

Misguided feeding of wildlife distorts populations, especially those with no natural predators left in our suburbs.

We're over-run with rodents. Rats are not protected, rats with furry tails should not be protected or fed. Squirrels are way over-populated and getting noticeably more aggressive toward humans (at least in my yard).

Posted by John from Walter Hays, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

My sister has worked professionally with wildlife for decades, and these are things I've learned from her and her colleagues:

Don't feed wildlife. It creates a dependancy on humans, removing them from their natural habitat and possibly harming them.

Since we humans are not the only creatures on the planet, the wildlife have as much right to exist in our neighborhoods as we do. It is our responsibility to learn to coexist in harmony with them. There are birds, rats, mice, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, skunks, etc. Don't leave food outside for pets or else it will attract them to your yard. Make sure all possible entrances to your house, or underneath it, are sealed off. Keep your trash and recycle covered.

Don't leave out poison. Your own or other people's pets might eat it and die, as well as many other forms of wildlife than the one targeted. We almost lost our family dog when my mother left snail bait in her garden. The dog ate it and was rushed to the vet just in time to save her life.

Don't leave live traps in sunny areas. An animal, including someone's cat, can be trapped in the baking sun for hours and die. If you trap a troublesome animal, it must be released at least five miles away out of it's territory. Do not trap animals during their mating season or you may remove a mother from her young.

If a critter gets in your house, with the exception of small birds, don't try to catch it with your hands or they may bite you in self defense, or if they're a skunk, spray you. Open a door for them to escape. They are probably more afraid of you than you are of them. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone too.

I grew up in Palo Alto and have lived here for most of my life, in four different neighborhoods both North and South, and I've never had these problems with squirrels or other critters that others complain about. Part of it is attitude. Our dog has been sprayed by skunks around 4 or 5 times in our yard, but I chalk it up to life by the creek and take our dog in at night. I certainly don't want to eradicate all the skunks. This is a suburban area, and if people really can't stand wildlife they would be better off in a big city.

Posted by Jane, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

PLEASE DON'T feed wild animals.
It makes sure that they come back - other animals find the food and depend on it - the problem only grows.

Posted by saleha, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Get a cat, he or she will chase the squirrels away. Sure did the trick for me!

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Tina -- love your approach to preparing your child for life -- what a rare perspective these days -- being safe without making it a big deal or expecting the world to provide all the "work arounds".

John -- couldn't agree more about squirrels not being a big deal; they are in my yard constantly and I find them entertaining, even if they do like the leafs on the trees. And no, I would never feed them.

For those of you proposing solutions that would torture the animal, you do know that killing animals and taking pleasure in it can be suggestive of pathology? Getting rid of pests is understandable; doing it inhumanely is not.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I recently found a bunch of peanuts that were dug up around the chicken coop -- they were whole, in-shell peanuts. So the squirrels have definitely been hard at work storing them in our yard.

Posted by ---, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Jeez people... squirrels preceded you here, and when you moved to Palo Alto, you HAD to know about the trees.

If you want to live in a treeless, squirrel-less place, MOVE. Don't ask Palo Alto to become a sterile, treeless, animal-less zone just for your own convenience.

(Note that I don't feed our local squirrels, but I don't begrudge them even though they like my apricots).

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Wow, all the hatred toward God's creatures! They were here first, you know. The squirrels are not in our backyards; we are in their living room, and it it up to us to figure out how to live with them. Clearly the best solution is to not feed them, or other wild animals. Those of you wishing them harm might consider professional help.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Squirrels used to be quite an important food resource for humans, they still are in the South, about as much meat as a rabbit and the fried brains are considered a real delicacy--- lets fatten them up

In Germany people raise rabbits for food on their balconies if they live in cities, the French eat frogs, Indians and South Americans eat rodents and in China-- well-- you never know.

Posted by john from Walter Hays, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Neighbor and Nora Charles are right, killing and torturing animals for pleasure is sadistic, and an aspect of psychopathy (lack of conscience, empathy, or compassion). I am a mental health worker, so I'm in a position to know. Wanting to eradicate all the animals also shows narcissism (a sense of entitlement), and ignorance.

Also, I forgot to mention that any poison put out for wildlife could also kill someone's child, including yours.

Posted by Squirrely, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Anonymous --

It's illegal to put out an indiscriminant poison that would be attractive to animals other than the target animal -- especially song birds.
(Not to mention your liability when pets or children are poisoned.)

You can achieve your goal by getting a Havahart trap and relocating the animals.

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm

We used to live in a part of town where someone fed the squirrels, resulting in too many squirrels and buried peanuts everywhere. One day a squirrel plummeted to its death on our back deck. Days later another died in the same way. Some neighbor had decided to combat the overpopulation with poison. Feeding animals leads to trouble for everyone, including the animals. I had the awful responsibility of disposing of the squirrels, which continued to die in this way for some time to come. Yuck. Incidentally, the neighbor who was so generous with her peanuts ended up in a mental health ward. On the subject of nut allergies, I commend the attitude of the parent above who took responsibility for her child's allergies. The well meaning staff at my children's preschool eliminated so many foods from the snack options in order to accommodate the many allergies among the student population that my son could not get through the day on the meager snacks that were allowed:Ritz crackers and water melon. We had to leave the school.

Posted by ND, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Just curious if anyone has a clue why so many children these days have peanut allergies. When I grew up, every kid on the bus had a PBJ in the lunchbox. The first time I ever heard of this allergy was around 1994.

Posted by Shelly, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I agree that when we grew up peanut allergies were extremely rare and I only heard about it but did not know of anyone who had it. Now, the elementary schools prohibit peanuts until after grade 3. I understand the concern, but as one poster said above, teach the kids what to stay away from. It is still a minority that have peanut allergies and many children enjoy PB & J sandwiches.

I have never seen people feeding the squirrels yet they are all around our neighborhood.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Just because someone suggests or wants to kill annoying and destructive squirrels does not mean they get pleasure out of it or are sadistic or animal haters. Why can't 1 in 20 of the people who post here have some perspective on any issue and avoid these kinds of foolish statements.

I do not want to cause any squirrel any pain, but I do not want them to destroy my yard, or the fruit in my fruit trees.

Feeding them with decoy food is incorrect as well, can't anyone see clearly where that leads, it is the same as feeding them anyway, it just adds to the problem.

The real solution is to talk to them clearly and simply in one syllable words, and being very emotional so they understand you .... JUST KIDDING, the only real solution is for people who are being bothered by squirrels to kill them.

Trapping and driving them elsewhere is foolishness. Think of the just the pollution and energy costs of building traps, buying traps, transporting them, setting them up, the change of being bitten by a squirrel, this idea is more foolishness.

Life works by colonizing areas where it can sustain itself. Someone's backyard is not a good place anymore for squirrels. I am not suggesting everyone has to kill squirrels, but for those that have a problem with them it is the best and only real solution.

If squirrels were endangered, there might be extenuating reasons to find other solutions and expend more resources, but as things are now ... looking at reality, which is usually a better idea than lliving in some fantasy world, it ought to be legal and reasonable to humanely destroy garden pests.

If anyone has any better logical thinking on this I am open to hearing it, or any reasonable or logical criticism of my thinking here, but the conflicts in our society these days always seem to escalate to where it seems reasonable for people to be hyperbolically unreasonable and hostile .. this is the real problem. Killing squirrels does not make one a nature hater, or sadist, but expressing thoughts like that does make one consciously or unconsciously a problem for any community that wants to be fair, considerate and do the right thing.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

On the purpose of this article, I agree whole-heartily with Tina, a resident of Menlo Park who expressed well the problems of trying to get people to change their behavior in any situation. People just do not, not to mention that not everyone will even hear about it or agree.

I feel very sorry for anyone with such a food allergy, and appreciate the posting that educates me on how hard it is to avoid certain things and to be conscious of others people's needs. I believe Tina had it right to educate the sufferer to do what is needed to protect themselves in a world that does not give much bandnwidth to the problems of small groups of people. Eventually in time people will learn and change their behavior, and it is something we should all work for, but not necessarily will we be able to depend on it as rapidly as we would like.

Posted by good eats, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I hear from my husband (family from the South) that squirrels are quite tasty. Poisoning them should be banned. But people should be allowed to trap and, ahem, have them for dinner. Free protein in hard times...

There is the occasional case of the plague, even in California, found in squirrels. These kinds of things are a problem when populations grow without limits. That happens from lack of predators and overabundant food sources.

I just heard today from a PARENT with a peanut allergy who has been finding peanuts around their yard -- from squirrels. Please don't feed the squirrels!

Posted by Cieboy, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Don't feed wildlife. Send $ donations for food to the humane society if you want to feed critters.

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Concerning Anon's comments:

Killing squirrels because they annoy you, even if you think you're not a "nature hater", or you don't derive pleasure from it, doesn't make it okay. As numerous posters here have said, it it important to find ways to coexist peacefully with wildlife. Contact organizations such as garden centers and the humane society and ask for non-harmful ways to deter squirrels. I've heard that hanging cheap CD's from fruit trees scares them away. Look for other non-harmful solutions like that.

When people move into the hills do they kill all the deer so they don't eat their flowers? No. They build fences and use Coyote urine to deter them.

When people go camping do they shoot all the bears? No. They put their supplies in the bear-proof containers or string them up a tree.

What gives someone the right to kill off a species of wildlife in their neighborhood because it annoys them? It's selfish, and deprives others of the joy they derive in living in harmony with said wildlife. Learn to coexist peacefully with wildlife or move somewhere where there is none.

And please folks, stop feeding the squirrels peanuts, or anything else.

Posted by yuk, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I once found nuts INSIDE the house, on the kitchen floor, and in kitchen drawers. I was blaming my husband until I found a place these critters could go in and out, they are like rats. They are not exactly "cute" either, the black squirrels in PA appear violent.

Perfect place to make a movie like The Birds but about the black squirrels...

Posted by robit noops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I just had a squirrel chew through the wiring and fuel line of my car. I have heard of some cities using hawks and kestrels to keep down the squirrel population.

Posted by Capbreton, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Squirrels do what they do. They used to take disposed corn-on-the-cob out of our trash, eat some more and toss the ears over the fence into our neighbors' yards.

The Payne's concern with people deliberately feeding squirrels peanuts is, frankly, loopy. While we are all sympathetic to the danger of the allergy, the world -- and certainly not nature -- is what it is. It is the parent's job to be the shield, nothing more.

Viewed objectively this issue is pure PC madness.

Be careful. Be safe. But don't try to change nature -- people's or nature itself.

Best suggestion? Move to Europe, where no one eats peanut butter and the food just isn't popular. That's the only place society will actually help you.

Posted by GetADog, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Get a dog, let the dog out in the yard from time to time; you won't see a squirrel on your property !

Posted by ninadora, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2010 at 9:34 pm

the same exact thing happened to me. i went around the surrounding blocks and taped a letter to the front doors explaining that peanuts were showing up in our yard, and it was deadly to my child, and if they must feed the squirrels to please switch to sunflower seeds. i never found another peanut. good luck! we need it!

Posted by metal mouth, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

the name derives from Dental.
these critters will chew on anything and everything.
they have chewed wiring under the hood of the car, and chewed away at insulation for their nest.

The worst however, was sharpening their teeth on all our outdoor metal furniture. We couldn't believe it when we first heard the sound and saw the aftermath -You ought to see the damage/unreal!
Even the folks at the County Vector Control were mystified :-}

Posted by Baldy in a caddy, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

Im allergic to mold, can we cut down all tree's and plants in my area.

I sympathise with this womans fears. I just don't think she is all there if you know what I mean.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Your allergy to mold is not going to kill you from minor exposure the way the peanut allergy will. The mother who posted this has to deal with the possibility that even minor exposure to peanuts could kill her child. Her child should be able to be safe in their own backyard, but isn't because someone in her neighborhood is feeding peanuts to the squirrels, and those squirrels are carrying them into her yard.

I read a science report, involving some doctors describing the extent of this allergy. Apparently, the one doctor ate some peanut butter early in the day, and, knowing her boyfriend had this allergy, she brushed her teeth, gargled, rinsed her mouth, all six hours prior to seeing him. Yet just a kiss caused him to have a dangerous reaction requiring epinephrine. I think they wrote it up as a case report because they wanted to help other doctors understand the extent of this growing problem.

Posted by Mom in Palo Alto, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

My toddler is also allergic to peanuts, and although I agree with the earlier poster who recommended that we should eventually teach our child to say no to potentially allergenic foods, I think there's only so much a toddler can be expected to do. Most infants and young toddlers put toys and other objects in their mouths, regardless of whether we tell them not to. If you tell a one-year-old to say no to snacks, cookies, and sandwiches, I doubt he or she can be counted on to do so. Therefore, like the mom in the article, I'd like to do whatever I can to limit my child's peanut exposure, including asking other adults to change their behavior (like not feeding nuts to squirrels), since I can't expect my 19-month-old son to do so.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm

In our future perfect government run world, there will be no peanuts in anyone's yard. Or anything else where being personally careless could lead to harm. We should not have to be responsible for anything that impinges on our right to happiness without fear.

And no squirrels either, except within designated Squirrel Sanctuaries- in which case you are going to be the one who has to go...

Posted by Surprised, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I'm surprised to see such an outpouring of hatred for squirrels. I have an idea! Why don't you folks who hate squirrels go live in some nice paved-over place that has no wildlife in it? You'd be much happier. And so would the rest of us around here who enjoy sharing our space with wildlife.

Posted by robit noops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I don't hate squirrels, but they can get overpopulated at times. I think it is important to make sure that there are predators for them because their population can get out of hand. I sympathize with the peanut lady, but shouldn't she tell her kid not to eat garbage he finds in the dirt?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I like the squirrel antics, and do feed some acorns that I buy, or pick up the walnuts that fall to put out on deck. They are out there along the streets, yards, etc. so they are going to look for their favorite foods. I Do Not use peanuts.

Posted by For the squirrels, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

I'm sorry about your son's allergies but like someone said, get a dog and there will be no more squirrels in your yard. [Portion removed.] These are just little furry creatures. They do not carry diseases as some of you uneducated ppl assume. Do not poison them or kill them, look what you are teaching your children when you do things like that!

Posted by Reason, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2016 at 10:07 am

To all the commenters who are suggesting dogs as a solution: i have a peanut-allergic adult friend with two large dogs who was unable to keep the peanut shells out of the back yard. In Palo Alto.

To all the commentors suggesting the child just don't eat them: People with peanut allergy can be so allergic, they can go to the hospital just from touching them, or touching surfaces on which the peanuts had once sat. The family should be able to be safe in their own yard. They could go to prison for keeping a poisonous snake pit in their back yard. Why is it ok for a neighbor to create a less avoidable lethal hazard?

To people who don't remember - Plague has been found in local ground squirrels.

To people who want to eat the squirrels - they might taste nice and peanutty. Look up the rules, I thought it was illegal to move them, but not to kill them. (?)

To people who think it's sociopathic to fantasize about ridding the yard of squirrels: Become a gardener. Put your heart and soul into it. Walk a mile in the gardeners' shoes. Then come back and honor your fellow residents for their restraint.

People poisoning squirrels, now they need to get their heads examined. Poisoning rodents is likely to get the predators killed which will only get you more rodents. It's dangerous for dogs and cats. Don't do it.

To all the commenters suggesting the original poster get a dog or cat, despite the fact that they don't necessarily solve the problem: Getting a pet is a big step, almost like adding another child. People should only do this when they are prepared to be responsible pet owners. Usually kids with severe allergies have other allergies already. Getting a cat or dog may be medically inadvisable. (Please no one launch into any claptrap about allergies and pets, it's reached fevered urban legend status. It makes a great urban legend headline, but there is too much contradictory evidence to make medical recommendations. First cats were supposed to protect, then they made it worse, etc. there are to date no actual sound steps anyone can use from those studies, only irresponsible inferences people hammer each other with to fell superior.)

That said - has anyone tried electric fencing right along their fences to deter rodents? ...

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2016 at 10:28 am

A lot of city folks posting here who wouldn't know how to survive outside their sanitized artificial world. Yes squirrels can sometimes cause damage, but I've had people steal peaches off my tree in the front yard and leave poop from their dogs all over the place too. These people have as much right to live here as the squirrels I guess. I thought this posting was about protecting a child with severe nut allergies...

Posted by Reason, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2016 at 11:28 am

Clearly you are not a gardener.

P.S. Clearly you also never grew up on a farm or had members of your family survive in part from hunting squirrels. I have. But they were real wild squirrels. Who knows what these are soaked in. I wouldn't personally eat these, but I would poke fun at the situation.

The squirrels do not just occasionally steal a fruit. Real squirrels will strip a whole tree in a matter of minutes to hours. They do not consume most of what they ruin, they take a bite and throw the rest on the ground. Attempts to educate them about the serious problem of food waste in this country (see this month's National Geographic) have been unsuccessful.

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