I burst out laughing as I watched Mr. Operator out there on the green acting like a bowling ball, using a few other squirrels as pins! His game was to charge a squirrel and send it flying up into the air! The squirrels didn't run off, and continued their foraging close by until they were sent flying again, so I guess they didn't mind being bowling pins! In fact maybe it was fun. Wheeeee! As much fun as a carnival ride for a squirrel!
How Mr. Operator got his nameWhen we first met up with this squirrel two years ago, he'd always chase the other squirrels away so only he would get the nut. He didn't have time to stop and eat, so he'd hastily bury the nut nearby then run back to keep the other squirrels at bay. At first I thought he was a greedy, selfish squirrel that needed to be taught a lesson, Bernie just happened to have his net with him that day so we decided to catch him and punish him by humiliating him in front of the other squirrels. Mr. Operator obliged. Unlike other squirrels, he was an easy catch. The squirrel knows no fear. He's been known to climb onto my lap to get to the nut bag, while I'm distracted by something else.
He didn't exactly enjoy being nettted of course, but he didn't panic either, and emerged cool, calm and unscathed. His behavior didn't change, however. I soon came to appreciate him as a squirrel with personality. I thought he was a real operator, an entrepreneur who was stocking his inventory of nuts, so I named him Mr. Operator. With his one blind eye he looked like the pirate that he acted like.
Now that I know Mr. O. better I don't think it was ever about hoarding nuts. I think he enjoys being a bully and chasing the other squirrels out of his personal space, just for fun. And for even more fun, to shoot them sky high! It's the game, and if I had it to do all over again, I guess I'd name him Gameboy.