Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Squirrel Stakeout

One of our nice neighbors told us when we moved in that he could see squirrels nesting up in the eves of our house. But we never could hear anything, so we weren't all that worried about it. Plus, squirrels are kind of cute, right? I mean, as long as they're not hurting anything, is it a big problem? These are the the kind of thoughts that make me a bad homeowner. For the record, squirrels are BAD.

You see, we recently had our entire house insulated (exterior walls, basement band joists, and the attic.) And, I guess when the guys were insulating in the attic, they found major evidence of squirrels living there like pee, droppings, etc. I have to admit, it is pretty gross, but still... what could we do? So we asked our neighbor how they were getting in. We don't have any trees on our property, so that wasn't it. The only other option would be power lines, of which we have three running next to our roof. Then one day, I saw him. Everyone, meet Sherman:

It was exactly where we suspected he was getting in, and so Justyn came up with a plan of action. He bought some heavy duty, industrial-strength steel grating to cover up the hole they were using to get in. We watched to see when Sherman would leave (after all, we didn't want to trap the little guy in there). This is Justyn on our neighbor's porch, scoping it out:

Of course, eventually Sherman left to go get food, or scamper on trees, or whatever it is that squirrels do. Justyn promptly installed the steel grating over the hole, and we waited some more. We wanted to make sure it worked, and that when Sherman came back, he couldn't get in. We made ourselves comfortable and even had lunch.

When Sherman came back, he couldn't get in (of course). I'm no expert in squirrel behavior, but I honestly expected him to just leave once he figured out he couldn't get back in. But no. Sherman then did something very unexpected. He totally freaked out. He grabbed onto the steel mesh and started shaking it violently, and then started scampering around all over the roof. We were still on the lawn watching all of this unfold, and he looked at us from over the edge of the roof, and started barking and whining at us. Sort of like a dog, yes, but more high-pitched, like a squirrel. I didn't even know squirrels made noise so the whole thing was totally weird. Then, Sherman ran up to the top of the roof ridge and laid down.

Sherman stayed there for hours, and it made me feel like a bad person. All the while, he was chirping and barking and whining. It made me feel so bad, that I started to talk to him in the special voice I usually only reserve for Oliver. I told Sherman that I was sorry, and that I promised everything would be okay. It was only just beginning to feel like fall, and he would have plenty of time to find other lodging. And, just down the street I had seen a beautiful oak tree with tons of acorns on the ground, and one of our neighbors has a walnut tree from which I was sure he could get some food. When I started talking to him, he just looked at me like this:

And by the time I was done, Sherman had turned his back on me. Yes, he was still on the roof ridge, but instead of listening attentively, he shoved his bushy tail in my face. So, I went inside. Every half hour or so, I would check to see what he was doing, and he was always still right there. Every now and then he would go back down to the hole and shake the steel door again, only to return to the roof ridge and keep whining. After several of hours of this, we started to wonder if maybe there were more squirrels inside. We did some research on the internet, and found that some squirrels live in nests of 3, 4, 5, sometimes 6 in one place. It was the only explanation I could come up with for why Sherman would freak out like that, so I pleaded to Justyn to please remove the steel, and to try and find another way. I didn't want dead squirrel babies on my conscience. No sir.

So I did some more internet research, and after a couple of days I found a pretty cool idea. They said to get some 2-foot long pieces of plastic tubing, slice it open lengthwise, and thread the power line through the tubing. This way, when the squirrels try to run down the power line to your house, they will land on the tubing and just roll off. Kind of mean? Yes. Funny? Also yes. Justyn was very excited about this idea, and rushed right out to buy some plastic tubes:

You can see him getting in the mood. He was definitely in "battle-mode". (Obviously, he didn't have the special feelings for Sherman that I did.) So, we followed the directions and ended up with this:

Kind of hard to see, but you get the idea. We put them on all three of the power lines providing access to our house, and didn't see Sherman for quite a while. We also stuffed a paper towel into the hole he was using, just to see if he was still getting in (if the paper towel was moved to the side, we'd know it wasn't working). After a few days of the paper towel remaining in tact, we saw Sherman hanging out on our power line just outside of the tubing, eating a walnut.

No sign of him since. I don't know if it was the tubing that actually worked, or if we scared him so badly with the steel grating that he decided to leave on his own. Either way, we're squirrel-free!

I'm not sure if it was the most humane thing to do, but at least we didn't trap any squirrel babies in the attic. To me, that's a success.


Amy said...

Squirrels are just big rats with tails. Yuck.

Funny story though.. I LOVE the picture of the two chairs facing the house... like. can you imagine how funny it would have been to drive by and see you two sitting in your chairs eating lunch and staring at your house? haha. I cracked up that.

Christy Nicholson said...

Yay! I'm so glad you found a baby squirrel-friendly solution!

parsnipsandsprockets said...

Did you name him after Finding Nemo? =) P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney....