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​Man goes all out for his squirrel neighbors, 'Richard' and 'Maxine,' and it's too sweet

His videos are like therapy.

man feeding and caring for squirrels

Derrick Downey Jr. has been dubbed the 'squirrel whisperer.'

Most of us who live in the U.S. are used to looking out a window or walking out our front door and seeing squirrels. The cute, fluffy-tailed rodents often appear perfectly pettable, but they generally scamper away when humans get too close.

That is not the case for TikTok creator Derrick Downey Jr., however, as he has not only befriended his neighborhood squirrels but goes all out to help them live their best squirrel lives.

Downey shared a video in May of 2022 in which he chats with a couple of squirrels on his porch while feeding them and offering them water. That video received over 26 million views and kicked off a whole series of videos showcasing the adorable antics of Richard, Maxine, Hector, Consuela, Norma (may she rest in peace), and Hood Rat Raymond. He's built Richard a house, rescued Maxine's babies, mourned Norma's transition (to wherever squirrels go when they die) and more.

People can't get enough, and who can blame them? Squirrels are the best (when they're not tearing up your patio furniture and stealing cotton for their nest, as Downey has experienced.)


Here's how it all started:

It's fun to see how he has built up trust with his squirrel friends. He even shared a video showing some of the steps it took to get them to eat from his hand.

@derrickdowneyjr

Building trust takes patience 🐿❤️ Maxine and I working on a building a stronger bond, she’s more at ease when Richard is around but I would day today was a success. #foryoupage #squirrelsoftiktok #squirreltok #trustissues #derrickdowneyjr

Part of what people love about Downey's videos is the way he talks to the squirrels—it almost feels like therapy. As one commenter wrote, "I think I just healed my inner child." Others compare Downey to a real-life Disney princess.

All of his patience and trust-building have paid off. Watch how Maxine will now jump right onto him for a snack.

@derrickdowneyjr

Jump #pets #squirrel #foryoupage

Downey built an elaborate home on his balcony for Richard and Maxine, which was even showcased in Architectural Digest. He decorates it seasonally, which is hilarious. They even have furniture, a fireplace and a television. Check this out:

@derrickdowneyjr

Maxine never invite me to watch TV with her #cocomelon #fyp

But it's not all fun and games for Downey's squirrel friends. When some trees were cut down in front of his apartment, a nest of squirrel babies was displaced. The tree trimmers put the babies in another tree, but Downey was afraid dogs could get to them where they put them. He took their nest inside, made sure they were warm and comfortable and tried to feed them.

Then he found out that they were actually Maxine's babies! Watch Mama Maxine collect her young 'uns and take them to a new nest she made.

@derrickdowneyjr

Rescuing these baby squirrels and reuniting them with mama Maxine, was the greatest feeling ever! 🐿️ #babysquirrel #squirrels #squirrelsoftiktok #wildlife #wildliferescue #animallover #nature #foryou

It's delightful and strangely addicting to follow the goings-on of Downey's squirrel friends and watch him interact with them. Follow @derrickdowneyjr on TikTok for more.

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Photo by David R. Tribble/Wikimedia Commons.

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Commence epic reply...


(full text transcribed under the post).

A Facebook user recently commented that the Eagles had "played like they were wearing tutus!!!"

Our response:

"With all due respect to the Eagles, let's take a minute to look at what our tutu wearing women have done this month:

By tomorrow afternoon, the ballerinas that wear tutus at Pennsylvania Ballet will have performed The Nutcracker 27 times in 21 days. Some of those women have performed the Snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers without an understudy or second cast. No 'second string' to come in and spell them when they needed a break. When they have been sick they have come to the theater, put on make up and costume, smiled and performed. When they have felt an injury in the middle of a show there have been no injury timeouts. They have kept smiling, finished their job, bowed, left the stage, and then dealt with what hurts. Some of these tutu wearers have been tossed into a new position with only a moments notice. That's like a cornerback being told at halftime that they're going to play wide receiver for the second half, but they need to make sure that no one can tell they've never played wide receiver before. They have done all of this with such artistry and grace that audience after audience has clapped and cheered (no Boo Birds at the Academy) and the Philadelphia Inquirer has said this production looks "better than ever".

So no, the Eagles have not played like they were wearing tutus. If they had, Chip Kelly would still be a head coach and we'd all be looking forward to the playoffs."

Happy New Year!

In case it wasn't obvious, toughness has nothing to do with your gender.

Gendered and homophobic insults in sports have been around basically forever — how many boys are called a "pansy" on the football field or told they "throw like a girl" in Little League?

"They played like they were wearing tutus" is the same deal. It's shorthand for "You're kinda ladylike, which means you're not tough enough."

Pure intimidation.

Photo by Ralph Daily/Flickr.

Toughness, however, has a funny way of not being pinned to one particular gender. It's not just ballerinas, either. NFL cheerleaders? They get paid next to nothing to dance in bikini tops and short-shorts in all kinds of weather — and wear only ever-so-slightly heavier outfits when the thermometer drops below freezing. And don't even get me started on how mind-bogglingly badass the Rockettes are.

Toughness also has nothing to do with what kind of clothes you wear.

As my colleague Parker Molloy astutely points out, the kinds of clothes assigned to people of different genders are, and have always been, basically completely arbitrary. Pink has been both a "boys color" and a "girls color" at different points throughout history. President Franklin D. Roosevelt — longtime survivor of polio, Depression vanquisher, wartime leader, and no one's idea of a wimp — was photographed in his childhood sporting a long blonde hairstyle and wearing a dress.

Many of us are conditioned to see a frilly pink dance costume and think "delicate," and to look at a football helmet and pads and think "big and strong." But scratch the surface a little bit, and you'll meet tutu-wearing ballerinas who that are among toughest people on the planet and cleat-and-helmet-wearing football players who are ... well. The 2015 Eagles.

You just can't tell from their outerwear.

Ballerinas wear tutus for the same reason football players wear uniforms and pads:

Photo by zaimoku_woodpile/Flickr.


To get the job done.


This article originally appeared on 01.05.16

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