The Fanged Behemoth Panthers of Toronto, Canada

I forgot to warn her. Kathy of the JunkDrawer was headed to Toronto and I somehow neglected to give her the tip that very well could have saved lives....

Beware the squirrels.

Heyyyy, you're laughing... Stop laughing, you!-- What do you think this is a humor blog or something? I'm very serious about this.


But okay. I guess I understand.

When you think squirrels, you probably think little, fluffy gray fellows who hop around with bushy tails and soft white tummies, looking cute and and stealing Clusters cereal with their adorable little paws...

You think of hundreds of busy, nose-wiggling, society-approved rodents, shelling walnuts for Willy Wonka by the hour for peanuts...

Or "Andy" the sawdust-stuffed muse from Mrs. Dingus' antique shop in the Chevy Chase film Funny Farm.

But these are not the squirrels of which I speak. Oh noooo...

I speak of Toronto squirrels. Which aren't, in fact, squirrels at all, but giant free-roaming, fanged-and-venomous, Canadian black panthers that stalk, and sneak and lurk in public spaces.

(black squirrel photos courtesy of and LOL-enhanced by me)

Toronto squirrels are a whole other dish of nuts, my friends.

Gosh, I recall the first time I saw them. I was on a trip to see Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theater, and was roaming the city a bit before the show.

There in the park, the sunbathers were enjoying the summer sunshine beaming down on them, catching up on their reading, playing a casual game of frisbee...

WHOLLY UNAWARE that there were these unnaturally large, fleet-footed carnivorous beasts surrounding them, creeping stealthily, hopping from bench to bench, waiting for the right moment to STRIKE... and sink their shiny white vampire teeth into the unsuspecting good folk of Toronto.

I saw this spectacle and wanted to shriek:

"What are you people DOING, lying there so casually?! How can you READ at a time like this?! RUN, people, RUN! Run like the wind!! There are panthers! Giant vampire panthers here in the park!"

But I realized my own safety was also at risk, and I'd shelled out too much for the Phantom tickets to get killed and drained of blood before seeing the show. So I did what any self-respecting tourist would do.

I ducked into the safety of a hockey collectibles shop. ("Ooooh, Ron Francis photos..." )

I returned home from that trip unnerved, but wiser. And as I drove down my driveway and scared the walnuts out that same simple gray squirrel I scare each night--

(I swear, every evening, he's like some teeny Indiana Jones trying to escape that giant rolling ball-- )

--I had an all-new admiration for our neighbors to the north. They are made of tough stuff, our Canadian friends. To all my Canadian readers, I give you great credit for your bravery in the face of perpetual skin-shredding, eyeball-eating, blood-sucking danger.

And to Kathy, I can only extend my most sincere apologies. I failed you. I am only relieved to learn that you and your traveling companions arrived home safely.

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Da Old Man said...

I immediately sent this post to Mrs. C, as she is the world's #1 squirrel hater. Maybe Pa. squirrels are mellow, and such, but our NJ ones are quite the nasty critters. She swears they throw things at her and taunt her relentlessly. She is a gentle soul, lover of all creatures, except squirrels. She enjoys seeing dead ones at the side of the road, and has been known to yell at them, "You're not so smart now, are you buddy," to squirrel road kill. It must be a girl thing.

Unknown said...

Da Old Man- I had a squirrel when I was a kid who was a friend of mine. She liked to sit on my shoulder or my head, and enjoyed climbing up my leg (a problem for me, if I was wearing shorts). She wasn't a biter.

But these Toronto squirrels... Mrs. Crotchety will want to avoid Toronto. Possibly avoid the entire south east of Canada... She will have an unfortunate heart attack if she sees them.

They are, like, twice the size of our squirrels here. They are the Godzilla of squirrels.

I don't know how DrowseyMonkey has survived all these years. She is so, so brave.

Anonymous said...

Ha-ha-haaa, .. thanks for making me laugh!! I almost got all teary eyed from laughing!

"Toronto squirrels are a whole other dish of nuts, my friends." - I believe, I believe! :D hahaah.

Unknown said...

Ingrid- This is the nice, safe way to experience Toronto squirrels. From the comfort and protection of your own computer. :)

Anonymous said...

ROFL!! Oh, that was funny! Other Half told me about the black squirrels in Canada - he saw them at Niagara Falls, but when we went there, we didn't see any. I guess they didn't like the blizzard. Yeah, we were unlucky.

Pretty, though, aren't they? LOL!

Unknown said...

Jay- We do have the occasional black squirrel here-- in addition to gray and brown ones. But our black squirrels just look like regular squirrels with a dye-job. THESE were just... BIGGER. By A LOT.

I'm sorry you had a snowy-cold Niagra experience. It's supposed to be just lovely.

Greg said...

That was funny. At first, I thought you meant a hokey collectibles shop. But then I remembered the story was aboot you being in Canada, eh?

"Hockey" it is..

Unknown said...

Greg- It's not to say some of the hockey collectibles wouldn't be hokey, too. But no-- when you're in the home of the Maple Leafs and the Skydome, a hockey shop visit is a must.

Kathy said...

When my sister and I tried to get a picture of one we saw by our hotel dumpster, it ran away. Probably a good thing. Sounds like it could have chewed our faces off. I'll remember for next time. Nice squirrely, be a good boy..

Unknown said...

Kathy- Maybe carry some fresh meat in your purse, so you have something to toss and distract them with, should they get any ideas.