After eight years of living among squirrels, Swedish photographer Geert Weggen has probably made the most social progress with them as a species. Over a near-decade, Weggen has left a trail of nuts and acorns around his home to win over the trust and companionship of many of his local rodent brethren. All of these years of acorn offerings made Weggen a king among the squirrels, and the proof is in his photographs—he plays chess with them, gets them to ride bikes, and gives them instruments to play. He basically sets up scenarios where squirrels are doing human-ass things to snap the perfect photo, all for the price of some nuts.
For the comfort of both his models and the woodsy environment, Weggen took the time to craft an outdoor studio built out of wood, plants, and trees on the balcony outside of his kitchen. “I create scenes with small props and toys in which I hide nuts to attract the squirrels,” he told Independent about his progress. “I then wait, often for hours, for the squirrels to find the hidden nuts and for the right moment to take my photos. Some of the squirrels are very curious and don’t shy away from human interaction. Sometimes they crawl on me and even enter my home, but mostly they tend to congregate wherever there are nuts.”
He takes the photos remotely to not disturb the squirrels as they hold his props. Here’s a closer look at one of his setups, in which two squirrels grab some rackets for a game of tennis.
The squirrels don’t pay rent, so Weggen has published a few books featuring the best squirrel photos at their expense. A glance at his Instagram will show off some of the most incredible squirrel photos ever taken, with many of them holding items like flowers, nuts, instruments, and vehicles, sometimes standing with other squirrels and miniature buildings to convey a scene.