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They’re baaack…

File this one under: if it’s too good to be true….

When we moved into the house, a small family of squirrels was using our attic as an expansive rodent residence. A bit of wood repair during our paint job blocked their entry routes, and I’ve surveyed the eaves periodically since then to be certain that they don’t return. And I thought they hadn’t. At least until I returned home one evening and observed a bushy tail flicking out the top of a chimney. Seems that at least one of the furry beasties didn’t move far, overlooking the plethora of enormous trees in our yard in favor of a carcinogen-caked brick flue.

As evidence, I submit exhibit A:

squirrel chart

  1. Squirrel, calmly observing my fit of rage.
  2. Brick missing from chimney.
  3. Missing brick (see #2) now on ground due to squirrel (see #1) hopping in and out of chimney.
  4. A/C units!

Now, I’m something of a control freak when it comes to my house and this sort of uninvited guest draws forth an unbridled fury in me that’s completely out of proportion to the magnitude of the problem. To some degree, I lost my ability to think rationally when I discovered the varmint’s presence. But in a moment of lucidity, I realized that the only clear path to the high roof was by way of some low-hanging branches on an adjacent tree.  So I bought a pole saw and whacked them posthaste. Satisfied with my efforts, that evening I watched as the frustrated squirrel looked around confused at the change in his daily commute, pausing briefly before leaping 15+ feet across the gap as easily as I might jump a puddle in the sidewalk, and then springing into the chimney. Boy, did that get my knickers in a twist.

The very next morning, I headed off to the hardware store to pick up a steel trap. Everything you read on the internet makes it sound like trapping squirrels is akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  Set the trip plate, throw down a couple peanuts and you’ll have six or eight of the little buggers in a couple of hours. Well, the squirrels in this town must have PhDs (just like all the people), because after two weeks I haven’t caught a single one.  I’ve caught two birds and put out enough peanut butter, corn, sunflower seed and cereal to feed a horse for a month. But not a single squirrel.  The bait disappears and the trap trips, but no squirrels. I don’t intend to hurt the critter, I just want him to make his home elsewhere.

So, I’m feeling a bit desperate and trying to strategize my next move. The chimneys need to be capped.  It’s a minor miracle that they’re in such good shape after being open to 250 years of rain and snow. This is a project that was already high on my list, but I worry that if I take away the squirrel’s home without relocating him first, he might go looking for another one nearby – e.g., in the attic, by way of our newly painted trim. I wonder if I should have the tree man come chop the branches that he leaps from first.  This would have the additional advantage of discouraging newcomers. Or do I call the professional wildlife people to try to trap him? Has anybody had success ridding themselves of these persistent critters, and if so, how?

I’m accepting all advice and until then, if you see me throwing rocks in trees, I haven’t lost my mind, I’m just trying to convince Chip to move into the nearest available hardwood hovel.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Swifts used to love to hang out in my bedroom chimney at Seven Hearths. Was always afraid I would burn them, so did not use that fireplace much, but we surely had the downstairs ones going, sometimes all 4 at the same time…Now about squirrels, you should ask Karen and especially Bob (Ireland) how they are handling their infestion of the bushy tail varmits. Squirrels love attics and epecially to leave their nuts in the pelvic part of a halloween skeleton. They also gravitate towards the underneath part of automobiles, destroying all they can gnaw through. Bob found his solution with a shotgun, but none ended up in an old Brunswich stew recipe…Good luck in your next effort.


    February 27, 2013
    • jrh #

      Mrs. Burt talked about the swifts too, though I haven’t seen them in person. I’d love to smoke those squirrels out and can’t wait to have even one of the fireplaces going. Silly to live in a house called “Seven Hearths” with not one that works, huh? I’ll be interested to hear Bob’s solutions, though I don’t think a guy roaming an in-town corner lot with a shotgun would go over well in light of recent events.

      March 2, 2013
  2. mom #

    i know you are frustrated, but this entry made me laugh out loud!!

    February 28, 2013
    • jrh #

      I’m glad that my troubles provide some sort of positive outcome.

      March 2, 2013
  3. Anonymous #

    Bruce has his advice, but he might have to give it to you in person.

    February 28, 2013
    • jrh #

      Sounds like effective advice. I’ll look forward to hearing it when I see you guys next weekend…

      March 2, 2013

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