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Help! The squirrels are driving us nuts! March 1, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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“Ben! You’ve got to do something!!!” Silence Dogood screamed at our friend Ben as I lurched, exhausted, through the front door.

Now, it’s not exactly a secret that Silence, industrious soul that she is, finds our friend Ben’s exertions somewhat lacking, but really. I had just been doing something approximating work for the past ten hours. Fortunately, before my overtaxed brain could formulate a stinging rejoinder, Silence went on to reveal the nightmare that had overtaken Hawk’s Haven, our cottage home in the precise middle of nowhere, PA.

“Squirrels have chewed a hole into our studio!”

Our friend Ben must shamefacedly admit that I was torn between relief that Silence’s original remark hadn’t been directed at yours truly’s lack of enterprise and horror at the picture of rampant destruction this conjured up. Silence and I are fortunate enough to have a two-storey studio on our property. Each floor has a single room, and the studio connects to a large one-storey toolshed with an attic. The top floor of the studio is Silence’s fabric studio, and it’s absolutely full of fabrics of all types and stripes, yarns, antique and modern quilts, coverlets, and other historical fabrics, and Silence’s collection of vintage clothing. The bottom floor is our friend Ben’s, and houses my collections of rocks and fossils, antique plant pots, unique handmade birdhouses and feeders, and an assortment of vintage gardening tools, Pueblo pottery, dried gourds, and what-have-you. (It used to be our plant room before we built the greenhouse.)

As you can imagine, the thought of squirrels rampaging through either floor was not a pretty picture. But the thought of them ripping up Silence’s heirloom fabrics, antique clothing, 19th-century hand-hooked rugs, and beautiful quilts and coverlets, the collection of a lifetime, didn’t even bear thinking about. Not to mention the mess.

“Where is the hole?!”

“Right under the roof. I saw it when I was taking Shiloh out earlier this evening. I heard a chittering noise, and looked up just in time to see a squirrel disappear into the hole!”

OMG. That’s Silence’s studio. And not only that, that hole is waaaay up in the sky, probably higher than our extension ladder can reach. Not to mention that yours truly is deathly afraid of heights. But clearly something had to be done.

“I’ll go inside and see what’s going on.” Seizing a boom box, our friend Ben boldly made my way into the squirrel-infested studio. Hmmm, no damage to the ground floor. Gingerly climbing the ladderlike steps to the second floor, our friend Ben was not, as I feared, assaulted by an army of outraged squirrels. Nor did I encounter horrendous fabric nests filled with naked baby squirrels, caches of nuts and the birdseed we’d inadvertently been providing, and an overriding reek of squirrel urine (and worse). Instead, I found… nothing.

Silence was certainly right about the hole. There it was, at the highest point in the wall. But so far, for whatever reason, the squirrels have not continued their excavations into the studio itself. Our friend Ben can only hope that 24-hour ESPN broadcasts at top volume will suggest to them that trees really are better, or at least quieter, housing options.

Now I’d like to turn the discussion over to you. Silence and I hate to stop feeding our backyard birds—a huge source of pleasure and entertainment to both of us—but we don’t want to continue feeding the squirrels and encouraging them to hang around. We don’t have a gun, so shooting them isn’t an option. We don’t want to live-trap them and release them elsewhere so they can become someone else’s problem. But we don’t want them chewing through our walls! If you have any suggestions for us, we’d be so grateful.

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Comments»

1. deb - March 1, 2010

Manx cats work beautifully.

Sigh. Back in the days when we had eight outdoor cats, we had no squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, mice, or rats. Now that we’re down to the last puny outdoor cat and a visitor cat, the squirrels are fat and rampant. Heartaches!

2. Lzyjo - March 1, 2010

As you already now, Nashville has an extreme squirrel population. I was working from home alone, at the time, and I thought someone was walking on the roof. A few weeks later the darned squirrel, who had already been living in the attic, (presumably) chewed a hole through the dry wall in the ceiling on our walk in closet. DH was almost scared to let me go in there. The hole was big and it left a lot of plaster and stuff on the carpet. Naturally the landlady didn’t fix that stupid hole until we were ready to move, and she needed to make it rentable…….curses. DH also had the same thing happen an his apartment, squirrel chewed through the ceiling, but not in the closet. He ended up spraying wasp it with that 20″ wasp spray in a moment of self defense. He said it flew against the rafters.

I can’t tell you how to get rid of them, but I believe prevention is the best solution. Use hardware cloth if you need to.

Hardware cloth was something that occurred to me as I lay sleepless last night imagining the destruction, Lzyjo! I’m sorry to say that pepper spray did, too…

3. jodi (bloomingwriter) - March 2, 2010

Pepper spray and hardware cloth sound like a plan to me, Silence. I don’t have problem with squirrels here I suppose because we live so rural and they have lots to eat in the woods. We see one or two a year, and maybe they’re also leery because our two eldest cats still go outside for daily perambulations. They perambulate, not chase critters, being too old, but the squirrels don’t know that.

When we were adopted by some barn cats, we had no squirrel problems either, Jodi! Sigh…

4. Gail - March 2, 2010

They will only get worse Silence especially as they approach mating season/nesting that’s when I find them the most aggressive. We had a reliable handyman do an inspection to make sure eaves, soffits and all other wood wasn’t soft and easy to chew through…and we have hardware cloth on anything that looks like they can get inside. We had to put a metal chimney cap on the chimney when a raccoon and her three adorable babies moved in~How did we get them out, you ask! We placed a vinegar soaked rag into the chimney…shut the surround doors and they moved out within an hour. I wonder if it would work with squirrels? gail

Wow, Gail, that’s quite a story about the raccoons! People come onto PRA all the time searching for “vinegar raccoons,” and I’ve never had any idea what they meant. Thanks for the great advice, too. Scary stuff!

5. deb - March 2, 2010

Silence, I read your very sweet, supportive comment on my blog this morning. Thank you so much for the praise and the favorable comparison to a really popular blogger. I am seriously considering your advise.

Hugs

Deb.

Go for it, Deb!!! It would be so great!!!

6. Alan from Roberts Roost - March 3, 2010

A REALLY BIG Rat snake would do the trick. He/she would probably love living in your attic and walls. A small bobcat would also be a nice addition to the neighborhood (hard to get though… the permits are a bit of a hastle…) A rat terrier is a bit noisy, but effective if you leave them in the yard most of the time. Beyond that I’d suggest a shotgun and squirrel stew. It’s really good, local, and would eliminate the problem (and a lot of stress) in short order.


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