Some might say Steve Barley has too much time on his hands, while others are delighted by Barley’s fun and creative mind. The squirrels love him, that’s for sure!
For almost 10 years, Barley has been creating obstacle courses for squirrels in his own backyard garden.
Get set, go!
A retired teacher and dad, Barley has built intricate obstacle courses for squirrels since 2010 at his Hitchin home in a market town in the North Hertfordshire District in Hertfordshire, England.
“Back in 2010, my son and I made the first obstacle course from old bric-a-brac and a washing line for the black squirrels in our back garden to crack,” Barley explained.
Back in 2010, Barley and his son constructed their first course with disused wood and an old ironing board.
What inspired Barley to start building the elaborate squirrel obstacle courses in his backyard? Frustration, according to The Comet: “Having grown frustrated with the failed efforts of his squirrel-proof bird feeders, Steve wanted to make the squirrels earn their nutty breakfast.”
Let’s just say that Barley has exacted his revenge!
Barley’s latest course is a Formula 1-themed obstacle course for squirrels, cutely dubbed “Furmula 1.”
While Barley’s obstacle courses started simply enough, they’ve dramatically morphed into complex tracks over the years.
“Nearly 10 years on, my back-garden challenges for our furry friends have become bigger and more elaborate, or as my wife puts it. ‘Really, this is getting out of hand!’” Barley said.
The courses are, of course, difficult to build. Barley must calculate the exact footage, and the course itself can take several months to build.
Ad for the squirrels, he keeps them in mind as he builds. He never builds anything that could possibly harm the squirrels, because he loves them too much to accidentally hurt them.
“They do the challenges because they want to and it only takes them about two weeks to learn how to overcome the sections,” Barley stated. “All the squirrels I film are totally wild, and they’re an absolute joy to watch as they scamper, jump, and swing to complete each course.”
On his personal YouTube channel, Barley makes extremely enjoyable videos that show squirrels racing across the courses, complete with hysterical commentary.
“My only rule is … it ain’t worth posting unless it raises a smile!” Barley said, according to Upworthy. “… if you like squirrels, and weird and wonderful obstacle courses accompanied by a rather silly commentary from an eccentric/mad Englishman, then this is the channel for you.”
Some titles of Barley’s squirrel videos include:
- Amazing Squirrel Grand Prix Furmula 1 Obstacle Course: “Can Lewis Scrambleton beat the clock in a race against time to complete the Furmula 1 Squirrel Grand Prix?”
- Squirrel School Themed Obstacle Course: “Star pupil, Tailor Sniffed, takes on a series of backyard obstacles themed around school subjects.”
- Ninja Squirrel Braves Movie-Themed Obstacle Course: “Climbing her way to celebrity status in a special ninja guest appearance is the one and only … Nutalie Portman!
- Squirrel Grand National: “This unique event in the racing calendar has all the squirrel action you’d expect from fences made out of scrap wood, green pan scourers and even plastic spoons! But which squirrel will you bet on?”
Other themes that Barley has incorporated into his squirrel obstacle courses included the movies “Titanic” and “Indiana Jones.” Plus he’s included Becher’s Brook and Canal Turn (fence jumps) in the courses, which were inspired by the Grand National, a horse race held each year near Liverpool, England.
Check out one fun-filled video of the Squirrel Grand Prix Formula 1 Obstacle Course below, and check out more videos of squirrels on Barley’s courses here.
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