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New Brunswick man shares unlikely, heartwarming friendship with squirrel

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An animal rescue situation has turned into a unique friendship for a New Brunswick man and his new friend Peanut, a grey squirrel.

It’s not your typical four-legged animal friendship, but for Rodney Tingley and Peanut it just works.

“It makes me smile when, you know, he’ll jump on somebody else, smell them and, ‘Oh, that’s not him!’ He’ll, you know, either give them a little scratch or bite and jump on me,” said Tingley.

Peanut was found last fall by Tingley’s grandson.

He was so young that his eyes were barely open and, with no mom in sight, Peanut became the latest resident at the Tingley house in Colpitts Settlement, N.B.

“There was a whole bunch of people there and they looked around and no one could find the mother and somebody come up and said they thought the mother got hit by a car,” Tingley said.

“The little squirrel came up my grandson’s leg again, right up to his shoulder, and wouldn’t leave him, so they knew I’d take care of him, so they brought him to me.”

While Peanut might be his first squirrel, Tingley is an animal lover by nature and commonly takes in animals that need a soft landing or some extra help.

In the past, he also helped raise a baby raccoon, who still visits on occasion.

“You wouldn’t know unless you raised an animal like this yourself, they’re, in my opinion, almost human-like,” he said.

“You can tell they’ve got feelings, pain, everything that we’ve got. So they get pretty attached.”

For the last few months, ever since joining the Tingley family, Peanut has been living the good life.

A close up of Peanut eating a nut Tuesday morning in Colpitts Settlement, N.B. (Alana Pickrell/CTV Atlantic)

"I found out that he loved corn on the cob, so I’ve been buying four corn on the cob at the Sobeys every few days and he chews the niblets right off them, right bare, the whole cob of corn,” Tingley said.

Peanut is also known as a bit of a troublemaker.

Tingley says he sometimes makes a mess of the sunroom and has been caught ripping holes and burrowing into the cushions. He also occasionally likes to scare the humans who took him in.

“It’s kind of funny sometimes, if I have him in the house, he’ll jump on the wife and she’ll let a big scream out,” said Tingley.

While Peanut can come and go as he pleases, the bond he has with Tingley keeps him close to home.

“I figured I’ll let him go and if he comes back, OK … he comes back every day or two. Four o’clock in the afternoon usually and I go out and he jumps on my hat or shoulder and comes back in the house,” he said.

Adding, Peanut usually comes back in once he’s done playing with his friends.

“There’s seven or eight other little red squirrels out there and he chases them all up around the trees and I think he sleeps with them when he does stay out overnight, I think he’s in the bushes with them and in their nest curled up,” said Tingley.

“He’ll even go up to my brother’s place a little ways up the road and I go up with the car and he jumps on my arm, he gets in the car and I bring him home.”

An unlikely friendship that’s only getting stronger with time. 

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