This Pet Squirrel Nobly Protected His Home During a Robbery—and Even Helped Catch the Culprit

Joey the squirrel came out claws a blazing, protecting his beloved home from an intruder

Joey isn’t your typical guard pet. He’s not a hulking German shepherd or brawny Doberman pinscher. He’s a squirrel, a rodent­. But he’s certainly no pest—unless you try to break into his house. Then he’s a world of trouble.

Adam Pearl found a baby squirrel orphaned in his yard in Meridian, Idaho. He decided to take him in and named him Joey. Pearl set an alarm to bottle-feed Joey every two hours. Joey learned to use a litter box and graduated to a diet of nuts and greens. In just a few months, he became a fixture in the house.

“He’d let anybody pet him,” says Pearl. “Right up until the kid broke in.”

Joey goes nuts on a burglar

That was the day Pearl came home to obvious signs of a robbery. Strange, snowy footprints tracked around the yard. His gun safe was scratched up. A few items of value were missing. He alerted police about the break-in, and officer Ashley Turner came to the residence to make a report.

“Joey had run in the bedroom … and kind of startled her,” says Pearl.

Turner asked if Joey bites. Usually not, Pearl explained, but he is, after all, a wild animal. You never know.

Hours later, Turner returned with a remarkable story: She’d identified a suspect, based in part on the suspicious scratches all over his hands.

“She asked him, ‘Did you get that from the squirrel?’ and he says, ‘Yeah, it kept attacking me and wouldn’t stop until I left,’ ” says Pearl.

The attack “scared him, obviously, because he wasn’t expecting to have a squirrel come flying out of nowhere at him,” says Turner. “So basically he said he took what he could and left as fast as he could.”

The Pearls got their stuff back, and Joey got his favorite treat­: Whoppers.

Joey the squirrel returns home

That spring, Pearl noticed Joey’s growing desire to return to nature. Joey became increasingly interested in the windows, and he even began playing with other squirrels through the sliding door. Pearl installed a cat door for Joey to come and go.

“When the sun would come up he would go outside and play, and then when the sun went down he would come back in and climb up in his hammock and go to bed,” says Pearl, laughing.

After a few weeks of hybrid living, Joey made his permanent return to the wild. “He was up in the apple tree and climbed down on my shoulder, and I gave him a nut and scratched his ears … then he hopped back up in the apple tree and was gone,” says Pearl. “He didn’t come back home that night, so I think that was kind of his last little bye.”

Next, read our other hero pet stories, including the pit bull who saved its owner from a shark.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest