Saturday, February 4, 2017

Terrorist Rodents

Let me introduce you to the Eastern Gray Squirrel. Isn't it cute? Pretty little gray and brown coat, white vest, big fluffy tail. What a busy little thing! Oh, see it scratch. Scratch, scratch, scratch! It's plumb full of mites and it's itchy as hell. Look at that hind foot go! If you could get that thing threaded you could sew up a shirt in ten minutes! Ha ha! A-dorable!

I kid, of course. The Eastern Gray Squirrel needs no introduction, because it's introduced itself every damn where already. Just the fact that it's called an Eastern Gray when it's all the way out here in Oregon lets us know that it's an illegal immigrant, but once you let enough of them in, nobody can do anything about it anymore. The Eastern Gray Squirrel eats nuts, berries, Trail Mix, and bird seed that totally does not belong to them. When it isn't scratching or eating, it's running around like it's coked up and/or making new squirrels, in the absence of any evidence that there is a shortage.

Fun fact about these squirrels! Sometimes they don't eat bird seed that totally doesn't belong to them. Sometimes, instead, they eat all the insulation off your electrical wires, causing your house to burst into flames when you're trying to sleep. Or, as we have recently observed here, they take shelter under your solar panels, and, in a leisurely but thorough manner, strip the insulation off those wires, causing your solar panels to become very expensive squirrel shelters that produce no electricity. Every now and then a squirrel will actually electrocute himself. But not nearly often enough.

Why do squirrels chew on wires? Well, due to a horrible idea on the part of evolution, their teeth keep growing all their lives, and they need to file them down by chewing on your house and other things that totally do not belong to them. There's no good reason they couldn't have designed themselves to allow their teeth to get nubbier and nubbier over time until they become senior squirrels and they can recline in their nests while their kinfolk bring them mushy stuff to gum, but no, they are not interested in such a caring social structure, when they can just hunker under solar panels that totally do not belong to them, and ruin them with their freaky growing teeth. It's a stupid adaptation. It would be like if humans had one leg that never stopped growing and in order to keep from walking in circles all the time they had to go file it down by kicking Eastern Gray Squirrels.

Whatever charm these little rapscallions ever had has worn off for Dave and me long ago, but there's a limit to what we can do about them. Dave does own a Crossman PowerMaster BB rifle that he is perfectly willing to use to dent them up with, but we live in a very deep blue pocket of a blue state and we do not have the emotional fortitude to withstand the wounded looks and earnestly expressed dismay of our neighbors. Short of a stealth advertising campaign to promote Very-Range-Free squirrels as The Other Stringy Meat, our only option is to engage the services of one of our urban coyotes--just once a week, say. It would be bad news for all those neighborhood kitties that like to massacre all our birds that totally do not belong to them, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

56 comments:

  1. My husband and I refer to them as "the grey menace." Our squirrels are mutants from eating all that bird seed that totally does not belong to them. We could make a bundle if we could somehow convince people that "corn-fed squirrels" are a delicacy -- especially free-range corn-fed squirrels. Seriously, they are as big as kittens. I go into other neighborhoods, and their squirrels are puny by comparison. A friend of mine tells me that she has no squirrels in her neighborhood, as the hawks get them all. Mine would need an eagle; our hawks take one look at the size of them and say, "Oof... I can't eat all that!"

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    1. Regular footballs they are, eh? I wonder if your hawks save squirrel for high holy days and then lie on their backs burping and farting for a few hours while the Missus does the dishes.

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  2. Finally, someone who does not think squirrels are cute or purposefully feeds them! My husband has a BB gun that looks like a serious assault weapon, and I have a serious slingshot that uses ball-bearings whose sole purpose is to take down these grey varmints. Alas, we have broken 2 glass bird feeders and my mother-in- law's tongue has a series of perfectly round holes along the leaves, thanks to misfires. They elude us, eat our tomatoes,party on the sweet corn and leave divots in the lawn burying seeds they will never find. A scourge!

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    1. LOL! At first, I thought it was your actual mother-in-law who was accidentally shot in the tongue and only realized it was a plant when I read about the leaves. I thought, what an odd place to get shot... in the tongue. An arm or a leg, I could see. The tongue could only be an "accident", and not an accident.

      My squirrels also go after our tomatoes -- and in a passive-aggressive manner. They pick them just as they turn red, take one bite out of it, then leave in in front of my back door. I keep expecting them to progress to leaving flaming bags of squirrel poop.

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    2. I had the same reaction to mother-in-law's tongue, and I even know what plant that is. Seemed like a kind of egregious shot at the poor old dame, that she'd get shot in the tongue because it's flapping all the time.

      And HA HA HA HA HA HA HA on the flaming bags of squirrel poop!

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    3. Ditto on the mother-in-law tongue! Freaked me out at first!

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  3. Rats with fluffy tails. I don't understand why some people think they're cute. When we lived in town we had neighbors who actually put out squirrel corn for the little bastards. The squirrels never went after my tomatoes, but they did have a knack of figuring out that the peaches were ripe before I did.

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    1. My sister used to say the same thing about raccoons. She's start out sweetly: "I finally figured out exactly when my corn is ripe...IT'S THE DAY AFTER THE RACCOONS EAT IT ALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!" She also kept watch by the kitchen window with someone's rifle that year. Believe me, this is not normal learned Brewster behavior.

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  4. What if Dave was to put a silencer on the BB, so the neighbours wouldn't hear a shot and wouldn't know who dunnit?
    There must be some way to get rid of them.

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    1. He could set up targets in the yard and plunk away at them for a few weeks until everyone interested has satisfied themselves that that's what he's doing, and then...and then...

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  5. Oh, yeah - the teeth. We have a fake-wood (i.e., plastic) deck, and the little varmints LOVE the texture of it (firm yet smooth) for gnawing on. The top railing is chewed to pieces on each edge, along nearly its whole length. Nothing seems to discourage them.
    A most satisfying sight once was a Barred Owl in our back yard with the corpse of a squirrel dangling, limp, from its talons.

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    1. OOoooh. Satisfying indeed. I always wondered what the drawback was of those fake-wood decks, which otherwise seem like a good idea. Now I know.

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  6. Set out traps and make the squirrels pay for them. Or maybe replace the neighborhood kitties with neighborhood coyotes, if the former aren't getting the job done.

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  7. Back in the fall, I took my car in for some routine auto work. The mechanic found that some critter had climbed in my vehicle and chewed a round, comfortable hole in my air filter. I blame either a chipmunk or a squirrel who wanted a warm place to nestle.

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    1. Never blame the chipmunk when you have a squirrel handy by. It's important to be consistent when we're properly scapegoating.

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  8. I see a wonderful allegory here, but that is just me.

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    1. I'm not even going to try. I was trying to get away from--you know what--for at least a day.

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    2. Hunh - same here! A sentence or two in, and I was convinced that this was a thinly-yet-cleverly-veiled commentary on half of the U.S. being fascinated by and in the thrall of obscenely rich people/corporations... Guess it was "just" about squirrels.

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    3. It's just about squirrels. I like to keep y'all guessing.

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  9. I used to like squirrels.
    Then I bought expensive designer crocus bulbs and planted them under wire. The squirrels ate every single one.
    I sprinkled the garden with mothballs. Someone said that would scare them off. They like mothballs.
    I wasted several jars of chili powder on the garden. They like chili powder.
    One tried to steal my doormat. Needed a blanket for his hole, maybe. I started to keep small rocks on my desk, to throw when a squirrel showed up. They didn't mind; I'm a bad aim.
    One raided my suet bird feeder, tore it down, and hauled it off into the bushes.
    One made a nest in my car motor the week I was sick and wasn't driving. Now I start up the car every second day, even if I feel horrible.

    I still sort of like squirrels. In a park somewhere. Out in the bush. Not near my bird feeders or my car.

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    1. That chili powder thing. I use suet cakes that have hot pepper in them because it doesn't affect birds but squirrels don't like it. It's been working just fine and then last week I watched a squirrel munching away. Ha ha, I thought. Wait till you get a load of that pepper! He got a load of that pepper and then went for seconds.

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  10. We've never had to deal with squirrels, thankfully (knocks loudly and longly on nearest piece of wood). Aren't those neighbourhood cats interested? It was right after one of our cats brought home a squirrel tail that I decided they were all going to be indoor kitties.

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    1. I've never seen a cat with a squirrel. I don't know why. That would be useful. One invasive species hammering another.

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  11. We live in an area that you can't shoot the darned things. Houses are too close. We have live trapped many. I must say when you read that it doesn't help they are right. We took away 23 squirrels one month. They were gone for about a week. Then as "they" say others move in. Within two weeks we looked out and there were 8 of the determined rascals. So the moral of this story is that we are in their territories so just get used to it. Bah humbug.

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  12. Why do we despise other animals that approach our own success at screwing up the environment? Next you will complain about crows pooping on the sidewalks, or rats eating the bird food or coyotes getting the cats that are getting the birds? Oh it goes on and on and then comes a big old atom bomb to fix it all!

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    1. I was relatively cool with them until they ate my solar panels, actually. I didn't want to share the bird seed because I'd rather just have the birds but we'd worked that out. But you will never hear me complain about bird poop, and rats are fine, especially as hawk food, and I'm ON RECORD (right in this post) in favor of coyotes eating the cats. I come down on the side of the natives and neither these squirrels nor the cats are natives.

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    2. Which is not, I hasten to add, to say that I don't agree we're by far the worst of all.

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    3. "I come down on the side of the natives and neither these squirrels nor the cats are natives." Mmmm ... but neither are you and I and a whole lot of other two-legged critters on this continent ... and I hasten to add that that will not make you feel one bit better about your solar panels and I feel like apologizing for that ... but feel compelled as well to defend all the critters ...

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    4. I'm with you in spirit as I demonstrated in my comment just above yours, and would be officially thrilled to send my non-native enemies of solar power to your place.

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    5. lol No thanks! but someone is going to make a fortune inventing a squirrel-proof solar panel - you perhaps?

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    6. There are ways I am inventive, but I can't reliably keep my shoes tied.

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  13. I lived in England for years and ,at one place, had a family(with names, yet!) of Carolina Grays. And then I found out why there no longer any native Reds. Yeah, the introduced Greys.["ah, Miss Protheringham, have you met Mr. Grey? His great-great-great=grandfather was influential in the Charlotte Town Assembly...blah blah"]
    Maybe I should delete this,lest it whip up more support for the anti-immigration gang...

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    1. It gets complicated. Now we have sobbing scientists killing barred owls to give the spotted owls a chance at recovery. My take on the squirrels is they ain't Carolina parakeets or passenger pigeons, and if I can discourage them from my roof they'll make it nicely elsewhere.

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  14. Boy are you and I on the same page here when it comes to squirrels and range free cats. We should be neighbors. We live trap the gray rats with busy tails and illegally take them across the highway to the deep woods 10 miles up road.

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    1. Every report I've ever heard about squirrel relocation has been that it doesn't work. There's an ocean of squirrels and if you haul out a bucket of them a new bucket pours in.

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  15. It's a daring thing to do, to excoriate a nonhuman. It's way worse than excoriating a human, in terms of blowback. That's OK. When I read what those damn animal immigrants had done to your solar panels, why, I wanted to sign an order that would outlaw them. Just like that. And then I'd have gotten the job done. Seriously, though, I actually cringed for you and Dave. And then remembered my father, trying to grow pecans in our pitifully small front yard in Richmond VA, well north of where a pecan could or would happily grow. Squirrels took the meager fruit as soon as it formed. My DOD had no compunctions about horrifying the neighbors. He shot and shot and shot and finally gave up. The only thing that happened was not fewer squirrels. What happened was more, but scrawnier, mangier squirrels. "I missed the ones I started with." Snort. It seems meet to target the ones with a taste for insulation. And Dave can hand a copy of the repair bill to anyone who squawks, and ask if they'd like to put that objection into cold cash.

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    1. In case anyone is still listening, I'm not really capable of violence. I watched a spider crawling toward my face about three inches away last night and immediately flicked it off the sheets. Then I looked in the direction I'd flicked, and she was crawling back up. I flicked harder. Never occurred to me to skoosh. So my actual plan is to blast any squirrels I see on my roof with a jet of water any time I'm in the garden. It doesn't work in the winter because the hoses are turned off. (The cats get the hose wherEVER they are.)

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  16. I like what the Shakers did in their fields -- instead of scarecrows and trying to shoot them, they simply planted extra for the birds and the thieves. So, I put out extra seed. Don't know what to tell you about the solar panels -- cinnamon oil? A little speaker with non-stop Trump speeches? That would scare me away.

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    1. I've got a squirrel-proof sunflower seed feeder that works really well. The squirrels are underneath with the juncoes looking for whatever the messier birds drop.

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  17. My brother's neighbor in Rahway was trapping and releasing squirrels. Didn't seem to have any fewer. So he figured releasing them in the local park wasn't far enough, so he started taking them farther and farther away until he was releasing them twenty miles away. Yet he still seemed to have the same number of squirrels. So the next batch got their tails spray painted before they were released. Two weeks later they were back. After that he started gassing them, but even that didn't dent their numbers. My brother likened reducing the squirrel population to trying to drain the sea with a cup.

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  18. The discussion of live trapping reminds me: The father of a college friend used to own a hardware store in a prosperous suburb near here. One of his regular customers came in one day to buy a live trap because he was plagued with squirrels, and he said he intended to release them in a nearby municipal park.
    Fast forward a couple of weeks, and several park employees came to the same hardware store to buy . . . live traps. It seemed suddenly they'd had in inexplicable population explosion of squirrels.
    My friend's father expressed sympathy and mystification - and sold them the traps. Nice racket, huh?

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  19. I have a friend who went away for a week and couldn't start his car when he came home. When he looked under the hood the spark plug wires had been all chewed up. That was done by our red squirrels, a smaller relative of the Eastern Gray. We have the Eastern Gray up here, but they only live in town. I guess the distance between bird feeders is too great out here in the country.

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    1. That happened to Dave, too. He left his car with a friend in the country for a few days and that's all the time it took.

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    2. It's those darn teeth, like you said, Murr. Bad design.

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  20. BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    www.BoycottBitches.com

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don't know how to cook or clean, don't want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Oh, Boycott American Women! It's been years! How I've missed you! (To be fair, I can't hit the broad side of a barn.)

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  21. Well, I had a pretty good question, having to do with the chili powder or hot pepper in the birdfood. Boycott American Women kinda derailed me there for a minute. Whew. Where'd THAT come frum?

    Anyway I really do want to know how it was determined that the hot pepper in the bird food causes birds no ill effect. I can understand that they don't taste it going in...but please...what about coming out? Wouldn't it just possibly be...ouchy?

    From a compassionate, thoughtful, not too fat and highly responsible American Woman

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    1. Good ol' Boycott! He used to comment this exact same comment on a number of my posts and a bunch of everybody else's, but it's been a few years since I've heard from him! Poor dude. I wish him luck. He sounds like quite the catch!

      And as for the pepper: I go with what the bird seed stores tell me. It jives with what I would like to believe, and I don't care to research it further.

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  22. Just found this post and though it has been weeks feel compelled to add my two cents. I recently viewed a PBS show about royal beds of all things. Well, seems one queen a century or so ago had a whole cozy warm coverlet made of......wait for it.....a gazillion white squirrel belly pelts! Just starve those mites out and you got a decorative item the total envy of your neighbors.

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    1. Ooooohh...white squirrel bellies....ooooohhh...

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