His videos are like therapy.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.