THE TROUBLE WITH SQUIRRELS

Just for the record, my wife and I are animal lovers. We adore them. Well, most of them, anyway. We live in a rural area and go out of our way to invite wildlife to our property and the surrounding woods.  My wife dutifully puts out seed, grain and suet in the winter for birds, whatever we can find for the squirrels, and makes sure water is available during cold or dry times.  We have a healthy variety of wildlife around.  Deer frequent our yard, either passing through or bedding down  for the night.  They feel safe there, I suppose.  We try not to disturb them.  Birds come and go, as well as, opossums and armadillos.  The armadillos we have had some issues with, but that has passed.  Even a bobcat peered in our porch door one morning.  We also have a glut of squirrels.

In spite of our tolerance of the growing squirrel population and our efforts to appease them, they tend to exploit our kindness.  They are cute and playful, providing entertainment when they frolic around the trees and on our porch.  However, they can be mischievous devils and they are rapidly losing their cuteness appeal.  It started with a truck I used to have that I parked in the drive in front of the house.  One morning, I noticed that the engine ran rougher than normal and it jittered when I accelerated.  I soon discovered that a vacuum tube under the hood had been severed by a set of sharp teeth and a hunk of insulation from beneath the hood was missing.  I’m sure a squirrel family in a nearby tree was enjoying the warmth that my insulation provided them, never mind the rubber tubing.  I have no idea what they needed that for

Then it was the ledger board above one of our bay windows.  One or more of the cute creatures developed an affinity for the wood and began chewing his  way along the length of it from each end.  If we are at home and hear the gnawing sound, we run them off.  The other end of the porch seems to be a favorite place for them to nest.  The top of the bay window lies just beneath the second floor porch, affording some protection from the elements.  A couple of times each fall season, we must drag out the ladder and scrape the accumulation of leaves off the bay roof.  I suppose this would be so bad now, had we not blocked their entry to the storage shed.

Ah, yes.  The storage shed.  My wife used to store bird seed there in a large Rubbermaid tub.  It wasn’t long before the squirrels grew wise to that.  One day my wife discovered that one of the handles of the tub had completely disappeared, having been chewed off by a squirrel to gain access to the bird seed inside.  Squirrels love birdseed and will stop at nothing to get it.  They apparently are not averse to plastic, either.  The shed was also their former nesting place, as well.  The suet block feeder my wife maintains had also been cleverly disassembled by a squirrel so as to release the suet block to the ground for easy grazing.  There was no end to their antics.

Last Christmas, a squirrel was so brazen as to climb to our roof (a two story house with a metal roof) and chew through the wires of the Christmas lights that bordered it.  I think I know how the little devil gained access to it, but I’m not yet sure.  I’ll have to wait until this Christmas to confirm my suspicions.  I had also installed power roof vents on the roof. It was soon after that when my wife heard strange noises in the attic.  Sure enough, squirrels.  Upon inspection of the vents, a squirrel had chewed through the flimsy insect screen around the exhaust.  I tried putting aluminum mesh around it.  He chewed through that, too.  I finally resorted to hardware cloth.  Good, heavy duty metal mesh.  That stopped the little bugger cold.  No more squirrels in the attic.

We also are unable to leave anything that might be prone to chewing or consumption around the exterior of the house, such as live plants (they love them, even plastic ones) and any kind of fabric, especially cushions for chairs or benches.  This is primo stuff for their nests.

My wife and I have been in a quandary as to what to do about the situation.  I don’t want to shoot the rascals, so I tried my hand at trapping them and relocating them to a new home.  I have captured two, so far, and it has hardly made a dent in the population.  Now the bait mysteriously disappears from the trap and it is sprung when I look at it.  I suspect they have figured that out, too.  I’m still experimenting with the trap.  Hopefully, one of these days I’ll figure out how to be smarter than they are.  I’ve considered acquiring a rabid dog to keep tied to the porch, but my wife pointed out the fallacy behind that logic, as she usually does to my ideas.

For now, we just keep everything we value inside the house and endure an exterior devoid of any decoration, unless it is made of metal.  We still enjoy the playfulness of the squirrels, but with a little less joy.

About marc cullison

Retired college instructor, math and science. I write and read as much as I can. I am also working on my log house. So much to do.
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