The Unsolved Case Of The Purloined Tomatoes

As I was walking around the back of the house on a bright and sunny summer morning I noticed that a red ripe tomato from my container garden on the deck above had fallen onto the path below.

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Curious as always I wondered: How did that happen?  

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So I walked up onto the deck where I discovered more tomatoes off the vine.  Tomatoes with little teeth-y marks on them.  Tomatoes that seemed to have somehow fallen from the vine prematurely.

– • –

Immediately my mind went to our favorite sneak resident squirrel, Fuzzy.  So I bided my time and waited to talk with him when he stopped by for his daily afternoon visit.

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After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, I looked him straight in the eye and asked: Fuzzy, do you notice anything different around here?  There seems to have been a crime committed.  A theft.  

– • –

To his credit Fuzzy took the time to look around before he denied all culpability in the crime.  He looked to his left.

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He looked to his right.

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He glanced immediately below onto the deck.

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Then he suggested that the real culprit in this crime was that nasty old raccoon who lives in the old tree on the other side of the ravine.

– • –

When I mentioned that the nasty old raccoon hadn’t been seen in years and was presumed dead, and therefore incapable of stealing green or red tomatoes, Fuzzy ignored me.  This was of no concern to him.

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Having answered my questions to his satisfaction, Fuzzy then set about doing that which he had come to do: he started licking the terra-cotta pot to get his afternoon salt feast.

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And I was left with the impression that I’d been conned once again by Fuzzy the Squirrel.

– • – 

51 thoughts on “The Unsolved Case Of The Purloined Tomatoes”

  1. Oh my. I saw a squirrel running across the yard with an unripe peach from my peach tree. I have 2 trees and in the past 8 years have gotten a total of maybe 5 peaches. Everything loves peaches. My tomatoes are in a dog pen but I still have trouble with birds coming in to peck at the upper ones. Good thing I learned how to share (and have a cool grocery story nearby).

    1. kate, I have no doubt that your peach trees are a social hub for all critters. I can only imagine. Were the 5 peaches that you got delicious?

      I thought that my little grape tomato plant on the deck would be safe, but obviously I was wrong.

      1. Nothing is safe. I had a pot of parlsey on the patio. There was a food orgy the first week and it was gone! I there whenever I plant it gets posted on the animal community board or maybe the food bank!

        1. kate, you made me laugh with that one. I wonder where the animal community board is located around here? Maybe I could vandalize it at night, and thereby save my tomatoes.

  2. Your pictures are great and go right along with the story. I never knew squirrels would lick a clay pot for the salt! That’s a very smart squirrel you have there!

    1. Beth, yes this little guy is smart and fearless and bothersome… but so darned cute that I have a difficult time not liking him. He’s quite photogenic; maybe he could get a job as a spokessquirrel somewhere!

  3. This is great! I am a big fan of Fuzzy, a squirrel who knows how to deflect the blame! If you ever get some more good pictures of him, and would like me to showcase him on my Saturday Squirrel feature, let me know!

    1. evilsquirrel13, thanks for the offer. I’ll let Fuzzy know about it and let him decide if he wants to have a photo shoot, or not. He’s a bit of a fame whore, but his schedule is always so booked.

  4. When Dad had the big garden here, he used to check the tomatoes every day. Tomorrow, he’d say, that tomato will be perfectly ripe. And that evening, the local squirrel would pick the tomato and bring it up to the porch rail outside the family room – where Dad could see – and eat it. I suspect Fuzzy isn’t being completely honest.

    1. Zazzy, your squirrel sounds like one of Fuzzy’s ancestors. And I agree, I’m not sure that I believe Fuzzy, either. If only I had Abby from NCIS, we could get to the bottom of this crime. Think of the forensics she could do with those tooth-y tomatoes and the DNA left on the rim of the terra-cotta pot!

    1. philmouse, I hadn’t thought of that, but I bet that you’re right. It’d be just like him to sweet talk the birds into helping him with his heist. I wonder if I could get one of the birds to be a stool pigeon [so to speak] and help me catch him in the act? :-)

  5. He is very cute! But I put up wire cages around my tomatoes because they are very more important to me. Nothing better than a home grown tomato! :)

    1. Margaret, I’ve never thought of caging my tomatoes. This has only been a prob in the last few years. Used to be no critter cared about my ‘maters, but now… *sigh*

    1. Kourtney, yes he’s a cutie, but talk about annoying. I guess that his eyes were bigger than his stomach when it came to picking tomatoes!

  6. Ha! Funny story and comments!! I think that Fuzzy may be innocent, as well as a the birds. This has happened to me before in my garden (which is well-fenced and guarded by two adorable, but excitable dogs). I’ve had tomatoes fall of the vine ripe, especially the roma/paste style that you have pictured. I’ve never thought about what causes it, but an internet search turned up a few potential causes: very hot weather, inconsistent moisture, or nutrient deficiencies. Basically, the tomato plants might be a bit stressed by environmental conditions and aborting some of the tomatoes to save resources. You might want to see if they are getting too dry during the day (particularly likely if their in pots). And I wouldn’t expect you to lose all of them (at least I never have). Also, you can try to ripen the ones that fell by putting them in a paper bag in your house and checking them every day or two– it may or may not work depending on how developed they were.

    I guess I should be a defense attorney for squirrels, huh?

    1. Maria, you’d make a wonderful squirrel defense attorney. You’ve convinced me that it is possible that Fuzzy did not steal the tomatoes– just like he said.

      It’s been very hot here and I haven’t been the best about watering these poor plants, so I can see how some of the ‘maters could have ended up where they did. Thank you for researching this topic. The things we learn, eh?

      1. Well I’m glad I could help Fuzzy out! My tomatoes seem to do that every year, but I’d never wondered why. Happy gardening! (p.s. totally jealous that you have ripe tomatoes!!!)

  7. We have a squirrel here, Seashell, that does her own damage. Not only does she throw oranges down from neighboring trees, but she has eaten the nozzle of our garden hose. Don’t question this, I have seen it. At first we thought she was just licking to get water out, but as time has gone by, it has gotten worse and worse. You can barely use it. We got it for free from the water district, as it limits water flow in a drought. But the squirrel (Seashell) has also eaten the side where the handle is, so now you can only turn it on or off. That’s it. Silly squirrel.

    Also, how funny to find posts both here and at Nance’s place about squirrels today. Very different posts to be sure, but still.

    I like how squirrels are cute. I hate how they are stupid and run in front of the car.

    1. J, I have no difficulty believing that Seashell the Squirrel is eating your garden hose nozzle. If Fuzzy reads about it here, I’m sure that he’ll try to do the same thing with our nozzle.

      I wonder if Seashell is somehow grinding down her sharp little teeth on the nozzle and it feels good to her. Of course, being a squirrel she might just be doing it to bug you.

      I need to get over to Nance’s blog and see what she has to say about squirrels. Thanks for the heads up.

      1. Hi, J, and thanks for the mention. Ally B, it’s a QUITE different sort of squirrel post.

        How odd–I have parsley and tomatoes in my wee garden, and squirrels all over the place. Not a single casualty among my herbs or veg! I organically garden, too, so no Miracle-Gro or pesticides to ward off anything or make a plant taste funny from fertilizers using chemicals. Of course, I feed birds at the Dept., so perhaps the seed fall keeps them happy.

        1. nance, the squirrels began to take an interest in our tomatoes a couple of summers ago. Up until then they never bothered the plants. Stupid little buggers– the squirrels, not the plants.

    1. Kathy, thank you. Sadly my conversation ended in a draw– and with one of my loyal readers becoming Fuzzy’s defense attorney! Honestly, I never know what to expect around this blog.

  8. How on earth did you manage to click pictures of Fuzzy ? We have a few squirrels in the trees near our house. They often play on our fence. Tried capturing their antics on camera but without any success :)
    Coming to the tomatoes …I guess Fuzzy has an accomplice..I always seen squirrels in pairs

    1. mamta, I wish I knew how I managed to get all the pics! I was as surprised as anyone else when I saw them. The trick to it might be that Fuzzy is an older squirrel who doesn’t move around as much as he once did, so I can photograph him sort of easily.

      I like your squirrels in pairs idea. That would explain things, wouldn’t it? Hmmm.

    1. Kitt, ain’t it the truth? Fuzzy knows exactly who I am. As for your hibiscus, I didn’t know that rabbits ate them. So sorry for your loss.

  9. Fuzzy is the reason I didn’t plant tomatoes this year. I found squirrels up in my oak trees chomping away on them!!!
    Love your photo essay. Thanks for bringing it to the party. Have fun and don’t forget to dance!!!

  10. The photos are terrific! We also have squirrels–and raccoons and other critters that love to munch fresh veggies. Great post! BTW, Susie sent me. *s*

    1. Amy, happy to meet you. It’s a never winning battle with these hungry animals, isn’t it? I figure if you can’t beat ‘em, photograph ‘em. :-)

  11. Great pictures and hilarious comments! When we moved to the midwest, I wasn’t prepared for the take-no-prisoners squirrels. I planted hundreds of bulbs in the garden, only to wake up the next day to a yard full of bulb holes and happy (fat) squirrels. They could outfox any bird feeder. And forget about putting out halloween pumpkins. We had to carve them and then keep under lock and key until the big night. Even then we were lucky if they made it through the evening unscathed.

    I love this post for Susie’s party!

    1. barb, having lived most of my life in the midwest it wouldn’t occur to me to place a pumpkin outside until minutes before the trick-or-treaters were due to arrive. Never even contemplated doing otherwise. What a fascinating insight you’ve given me about who I am… thanks to take-no-prisoner squirrels!

      Susie’s parties are the best, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Coming over from Suzie’s place! Squirrels are the worst, but they’re fun to watch do their thing. I talked to one once on my patio and she had a terrible mouth. Such profanity.

    1. donofalltrades, it doesn’t surprise me that squirrels have potty mouths. I’m just grateful that you confirmed this fact for me. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Susie sent me to see about this alleged squirrel crime. While I can neither confirm nor deny the defendant’s involvement, I can affirm that this is one heck of an adorable post. Thanks so much for sharing this delightful story! I’ll be poking around a bit to see what other Fuzzy tales I can find. :)

    1. Jessica, Susie throws the best parties, doesn’t she? Glad that you stopping by. Love your comment: it makes me wonder if Fuzzy has hired you as his legal counsel. Hmmm? ;-)

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