Woman’s Photos Of A Strange Squirrel In Her Yard Are Taking People Aback

Animals in human situations are tonic for the soul. A zebra in a pair of rain boots? Charming. Some sheep behind the wheel of a golf cart? Devastatingly hilarious! Nothing lifts spirits quite as high as seeing an innocent, wild creature doing something mundane, and you don’t need to look far to find them.

When life handed a UK based photographer lemons in the form of a pandemic, she had to rethink how she was going to do her job. So she opened the door to her backyard and saw a rustle in the trees. An unexpected model looked back at her, with a glimmer of potential in his eye.

Wildlife and landscape photographer Sharon Cutler was restricted to the confines of her backyard like so many others during the coronavirus quarantine efforts, but for her, that wasn’t necessarily a problem. 

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

While her normal shooting locations involved traveling to breathtaking locations, witnessing once in a lifetime moments in nature from behind the camera lens, Sharon was sure she could find something worth capturing right at home.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Sharon knew her back garden had the quaint makings for something whimsical, and she had the perfect subjects in mind — your average everyday squirrels. Either way, the fluffy-tailed critters were going to scurry around her property, so she figured why not take advantage.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

High-definition snapshots of squirrels hanging out by her trash cans weren’t going to grab anybody’s attention, so Sharon knew she needed to find a way to make her backyard setting interesting. She had to make the squirrels seem special.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Ideas whirled around in Sharon’s head, but she landed on props. The perfect prop could transform the ordinariness of the squirrels into something truly extraordinary. If she could pull it off, she hoped to be like other artists bringing a bit of whimsy and humor during historically stressful times.

Art Beat Seattle

She had the perfect little prop on hand that would add just the right amount of humor and personification if she could figure out the right strategy: a miniature bed she built years before for her daughter’s guinea pigs. 

Etsy / Craftypics

With a bit of sprucing up, Sharon knew the bed prop had the potential for some of her most hilariously adorable photos yet. Since the internet is crawling with photos of cats and dogs doing cutesy human activities, silly squirrels were a relatively untapped market.

Tyler Knott

When Sharon first constructed the tiny bed out of driftwood, she had no idea it would resurface years later for a career-defining project. With a few simple changes, like the addition of handmade miniature bed linens, her prop looked like something out of Little Squirrel on the Prairie.

Marias Minis

Armed with her prop, Sharon brainstormed how to manipulate the squirrels. The highly reactive animals tended to speed away from human contact unless they’re trained with food, so she opted to try the same strategy.

NY Post / James Messerschmidt

After setting up the bed in her desired location, her final ingredient was a few carefully placed peanuts hidden within the bedsheets. Sharon slunk back, set up her camera, and waited to see if the squirrels took her bait.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

It didn’t take long for a squirrel to approach. Sharon quietly snapped away as the squirrel examined the unfamiliar bit of furniture. The critter lifted the covers searching for food just like a human might fluff the sheets to make the bed.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Sharon was focused and camera-ready while stifling her excitement over her expert squirrel model. It was almost if she were directing her furry muse’s movements. At one point, the squirrel hopped into bed like some sort of woodland cartoon.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

The spunky squirrel, whom Sharon nicknamed Cyril, was a natural in front of the camera. While he was frequenting her neck of the woods, she intended to set up more scenes to test Cyril’s curiosity.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

The bed wasn’t the only trick up Sharon’s sleeve. Naturally, where there was one miniature furniture item, there were many more, including another equally cutesy prop — a bathtub, that she conveniently had as decor in her bathroom.

Sharon Cutler / Facebook

Feeling inspired, Sharon got crafty. She added a few more furniture touches to stage her squirrel washroom, explaining, “I made the towel rail, towel, and bath mat to complete the scene.”

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Cyril spotted that suspiciously small bathtub and just had to investigate. He poked around the bathroom set like your dad would in the middle of the night, sort of confused and definitely hungry. 

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

The moment Sharon posted her Cyril the squirrel series online, people went totally nuts. They went viral on Facebook, as with so many people quarantined at home, this befuddled domestic squirrel was a glimmer of sunshine when they really needed it.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

There were a few complications she had to maneuver around to create her squirrel series. Set construction hit a temporarily delay after Sharon’s glue gun broke, so she ordered a replacement, as stores were closed.

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Armed with her tried-and-true tactics for staging squirrels in quaint human situations, Sharon said she plans to continue the series. The possibilities are limitless, as long as she maintains a steady supply of peanuts.

Sharon was able to channel the challenges of her quarantine into a fruitful artistic project, and she’s one of many. Though, she’s not the only person to receive a hefty assist from a bunch of squirrels. 

Facebook / Sharon Cutler

Just like many others struggling financially through the global coronavirus pandemic, 43-year-old Rick Kalinowski was going through it. Things just weren’t going to be the same for the Pennsylvania-based plumber and HVAC contractor.

Rick Kalinowski / Facebook

Rick was laid off from work in March 2020 after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe required “all non-life-sustaining businesses” close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. His stomach dropped. Times were tough, and he soon had to figure out a way to support himself.

Rick Kalinowski / Facebook

“My jobs were larger construction jobs, and Pennsylvania put a stop to them. I was pretty much sitting at home, not sure when I’d get my next service call or be able to go back to work,” the Bryn Mawr resident stated. He couldn’t twiddle his thumbs all day long, though.

Rick Kalinowski / Facebook

With his spare time, Rick watched the squirrels roaming about in his backyard. While staring at the scattered animals, the oddest idea for a backyard project hit him, one that he hoped would eventually fill his bank account.

Peter Trimming / Wikimedia Commons

In Rick’s garage was a makeshift woodshop. “I do work with wood quite often,” he said. “And, after I was home for two weeks, I was running out of things to do!” So, thinking of the squirrels, he headed inside and went to work.

Steve Hummel / The Wood Whisperer

He remembered seeing a photo of a hilariously-tiny piece of furniture designed for squirrels a few years back, and he thought he’d recreate it from memory. The final product would be ridiculous and kitsch, but he had an interesting purpose in mind.

Rick Kalinowski

It was a teeny tiny wood picnic table. “There were no plans, no drawings. I remembered what it looked like and just built it. Then I screwed it to the fence where I normally feed the squirrels,” said Rick. He worried squirrels would just ignore the thing.

Rick Kalinowski

So he was delighted to see the furry guys stop at the picnic table. Still, they just snatched the nuts Rick put out and went on their merry way. Once Rick set a cup of sunflower seeds on the mini table, however, the squirrels stayed to munch away.

Rick Kalinowski

See, Rick loved the fidgety rodent so much that he’d often act as a squirrel paparazzo. He couldn’t help but snap photos of the squirrels sitting at his miniature, homemade picnic table feeder and post them in the “All About Squirrels” Facebook group. Still, there was a problem.

Rick Kalinowski

After his social media post, he had a long discussion with his husband, Brett, about their rocky financial situation. “I had a little money in the bank, but my husband is a restaurant server and out of work as well. I was getting nervous about rent,” stated Rick. 

Rick Kalinowski / Facebook

The next day, the makeshift carpenter woke up to his squirrel Facebook post going viral, thousands of people interacting with his sweet photo. But it wasn’t just that they thought it was a cute build; these Facebook users wanted a squirrel picnic table of their own.

SquirrellyTreasureCo

“I was getting lots of friend requests and people sending me messages saying, ‘I love your photo, would you build me one?'” Rick said. Soon enough, Rick had 60 orders to work on.

Rick Kalinowski

Brett saw an opportunity, suggesting that the two of them start an Etsy shop devoted to the new squirrel picnic table business. In just 24 hours, their Etsy shop, which they named SquirrellyTreasureCo, had 400 orders. Cha-ching.

Rick Kalinowski

“It all happened overnight, and it was beyond our wildest dreams. I’m still in disbelief,” Rick exclaimed. But there was no time to sit and celebrate; he had to get to work! At first, Rick sold the picnic tables for $25 a pop.

SquirrellyTreasureCo

Each one came with a feeder bowl and mounting equipment. Rick eventually added DIY kits to the Etsy store, which soon amounted to half of the orders. The ideas kept stewing!

SquirrellyTreasureCo

“I predrill it, I give them the screws and parts with nice directions, and it’s a family project that’s perfect for people who are stuck at home right now,” Rick explained. Plus, he sells his building plan, which comes with instructions and a design layout, for just seven bucks.

SquirrellyTreasureCo

Rick even donated his building plans to organizations that offer wood shop classes. Meanwhile, the orders kept on piling in, so fast that he was forced to set up a waiting list. Rick was inundated with orders, and that only lit a more vibrant fire under him.

SquirrellyTreasureCo

And Rick isn’t too sure he’ll be saying goodbye to SquirrellyTreasureCo one quarantine restrictions are lifted. “I have a solid plumbing business, but I’m seriously considering building this,” he admitted. He’s been basking in the joy his mini tables have brought people.

Chrissy K / Etsy

“Now that the tables are starting to arrive at people’s homes, they’re taking photos and putting them on their Facebooks. And that’s exciting for me!” Rick exclaimed. These photos of squirrels chewin’ away have traveled beyond Facebook.

@jamesvreeland / Instagram

While Rick Kalinowski’s homemade miniature picnic tables bring hilarity and squirrel fine dining to any backyard, others are spending their quarantines on their own incredible DIY builds.

Jennifer Fisher / Etsy

Chris Lodge’s days all start out the same: Wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed. In fact, his wife Sharon has almost the exact same schedule, and all because of something the couple has been working on for years.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Chris is a construction worker and body-builder, while Sharon is a business owner. “The business suddenly took off and went a bit crazy,” Chris explained. The process of bringing their dream project to life was not just difficult, but extremely time consuming.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

That’s how the couple’s tight schedules began — and their lack of free time. “We’re both housebound and office-bound,” Chris said, and there’s one other factor that keeps the Lodges closer to home than they’d hoped.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Their dog, Dice. “[Dice] suffers from little seizures now and then so we don’t like to leave him,” Chris said. With Dice’s medical problems and their busy schedules, the young couple had to give up something that many people take for granted.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

“We haven’t been able to go on holiday for about six years,” Chris admitted. The couple were in serious need of a vacation…and Chris knew exactly how to get one without taking away from their growing business.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

The first step to making his dream a reality was to do some research, and by “research” we mean he stepped into his backyard and looked around. That’s when his eyes landed on his willow tree. Immediately, an ambitious idea started to take shape.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

He imagined palm fronds, torches, totem poles — your classic Hawaiian getaway. If he and Sharon couldn’t go to Honolulu in real life, then he’d bring it to their very own backyard. Still, even early in the construction process, Chris ran into some problems.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

His construction knowledge served him well, but he soon realized that it was the landscaping that would bring his backyard oasis to life. With very little experience to go by, Chris took the ultimate plunge.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

He dug up his entire backyard! Chris consulted YouTube for landscaping tutorials and laid bright green grass down to create a summery lawn. He spent hours researching which exotic plants would work in the cold, rainy UK clime.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Over two years time, Chris became the proud owner of palm trees, succulents, and alien-like plants from the internet. Using his willow tree for inspiration, his backyard slowly transformed into a jungle…but he needed more than greenery to bring his paradise to life.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

That’s when Chris’ construction background finally came in handy. Everyone knows the importance of making an entrance, and Chris made the walk into his paradise as relaxing as possible with just timber, driftwood, and rope.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Chris built a rope bridge leading into the backyard. The journey across the bridge takes you from real life to paradise, and Chris’ next move was deciding what would be at the other end of the bridge. He knew it had to be a show-stopper.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Chris had a $5,500 shed to work with, and he went all-out to turn it into the tiki bar of his dreams. He painstakingly covered the roof with dried grass roofing and palm fronds to give it that “tropical” look. Next up — the inside!

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Inside of the hut, Chris built a genuine tiki bar. He used bleached wooden planks and rope to build the bar and attached authentically-carved totems to the outside. Still, there was a lot of backyard left to transform!

Chris Lodge/Instagram

You can’t have an island oasis without one thing — water! With the bridge and bar complete, Chris focused on how he would incorporate an impressive water feature into his backyard. It wasn’t a hard choice to make: What’s Pacific-themed and aesthetically pleasing?

Chris Lodge/Instagram

A koi pond, of course! But with Chris as contractor, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it wouldn’t be just any old koi pond. He dug a huge hole, surrounded it with rocks, shrubs, and gravel, and made one very special purchase.

Chris Lodge

You can’t have a koi pond without koi, and Chris had a pond, waterfall, and multi-color underwater lights for his. He even added a few sturgeon fish to the mix! Still, with the pond completed, there was more to be done.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Chris was now fully invested in the project — “I was hooked,” he admitted — and as a self-proclaimed stickler for detail, it was time for him to focus on the tropical finishing touches. In his case, the details truly made all the difference.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Twinkling string lights wrapped around palm trees, rusted barrels, tiki torches, plastic flamingos, gnarled netting that seemingly came from a pirate ship. These were the finishing touches that made Chris and Sharon’s backyard the ideal vacation destination.

Chris Lodge

After two years of digging, hammering, Googling, and decorating, the Lodge’s staycation paradise was finally complete! Walking across that bridge is like entering another world — or, as they call it, “The Freaky Tiki.” There was still a not-so-relaxing task at hand, however.

Chris Lodge

Tallying up the cost of such a project! The couple spent $43,000 on their little paradise, and with a cost like that, it’s no wonder they spend a good portion of their free time there…not that they built it just for themselves.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

“I want it to be a place where all our friends can come to if they’re having a bad day,” Chris said. And like all good vacations, Chris isn’t sure if his own will ever end.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Since “finishing” the paradise, Chris couldn’t help but add to it! There’s now an outdoor room called the “Reef Cavern” — which looks like it belongs to a grizzled sea captain — a bonfire, and even more plants, which have become a passion of his.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

Chris, Sharon, and Dice once ended their days by collapsing into bed, but they now end it in paradise. It’s possible to make paradise out of nothing. Chris took a lot of joy in seeing projects from other people round the world.

Chris Lodge/Instagram

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