SIMCOE, ONT. -- Some local squirrels, literally working for peanuts, have become a social media sensation.

The critters are filling up their bellies while unknowingly participating in an ongoing story being told by a Simcoe, Ont. resident.

Professional photographer Daryl Granger awaits his subjects while drinking his morning coffee. But there’s no rushing these stars.

His elaborate sets and the nutty bait he leaves out have combined to draw in many of the tree dwellers - when they’re hungry.

Asked if he’s gone a little ‘squirrely,’ Granger laughingly admits, “I think I have.”

By now, you’ve likely realized the story isn’t that Granger attracts squirrels to his backyard, but rather that he gets them to pose for photos on his custom built miniature sets.

It takes nutty bait and good timing to pull it off – but the end results – a grocery store set, which even included a miniature shopping cart, were perfect.

“It was like COVID shopping, everyone running in for toilet paper only these guys are in it for…peanuts we had them come and raid the grocery store so to speak.”

This labour of love has seen Granger spend lots of time creating sets, strategically placing the nuts and peanut butter, and then hours watching for the right shot.

“What we do is we put them in certain places on the set, that way we are attracted to that part of the stage where we want them to be.”

The project started out of boredom during lockdown, but exploded once Granger posted a few pictures on social media.

That encouraged him to create a tale about the squirrels and their quest for nuts, even getting local police involved.

Enter OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk, who thought the case was great for community spirt during the pandemic, and as a result is pleading for the public to help find the furry fugitives.

Once tracked, tiny handcuffs are at the ready to take them in, “We’re not ‘squirrelling’ around, and we’ll break this peanut, and hopefully find the peanut breakers,” Sanchuk says.

A trail of shells is likely to eventually solve the case, and as they spend time in the custom-made jail ready for them, they’ll also be captured by Granger’s lens.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, except to go back to work,” he says.