Ground Squirrel

Yea, yea, squirrels are cute … unless they are fighting in your attic at 3 AM!

The winter before last was horrible. For six weeks we had squirrels in our crawl space following a total re-plumb of my house. The contractor didn’t put the vent cover to the crawl space back on the side of the house, so I had a 2×2 foot opening inviting the critters in.  When I heard one moving around and nestling into a spot above my bathroom ceiling I thought “how the heck am I going to flush him out?  He’s at the farthest point in the crawl space from where I can get in!” Well, he stayed there for a couple of weeks, chewing on what I hoped was the rafters and not my new water pipes,  but when the temperatures started to climb, he made his way out of the hot attic during the day, so I bought a replacement vent cover and had the opening closed before the day ended. All was fine … for about three days.

As I was brushing my teeth I heard a faint clicking & chirping above my head. He was back! Back on the roof I went to check the vent. It was still closed tight, but I discovered a hole in the bird-board just big enough through which a squirrel could squeeze. So I patched the hole under the eves & rented a humane trap, which I baited with peanut butter and apples and placed just inside the opening to the crawl-space. A week went by – no taker on the food. Maybe he got out before I patched the hole. Maybe he died above my bathroom and I’ll have to deal with the stench emanating from a point I can’t reach without banging a hole in my ceiling. Maybe he’s been around the block a few times and can’t be tricked into being trapped in a cage. Maybe he wasn’t interested in the bait because he wasn’t a squirrel. The possibilities were numerous. Another two weeks went by. Nothing. I gave up and returned the cage.

“BANG, SCREECH, BANG!” It’s 3:30 AM a week later and we’re abruptly awakened to the sound of what was apparently two squirrels banging into the metal ductwork while battling for territory in my attic!  It was so loud! Between the screams, the metal banging & not being able to see what was going on, it got down-right creepy after a week or so of the nightly battles. We were losing sleep and I was getting perturbed. Up on the roof again I went. How were they getting in? The only possible way: through the ventilation pipes coming up out of the roof.  There is a six-foot drop from the pipe at the roof line to the floor of the crawl space. I could see how they might come in that way, but getting back out would require jumping up six feet into a slippery metal tube & wiggling up and out onto the roof. Really?

The rain caps on the vents look like Chinaman hats. My boyfriend came by and put screen across the vent, then smashed down the “hat” so there was no gap. Finally; resolve! … but no: a few weeks later I’m in my bathroom again and I hear the faint sound of the squirrel shifting his weight above my head. Now I was pissed! I grabbed a mop and banged the ceiling where I could hear he was. He moved and I continued to hit the ceiling just behind where he was, forcing him to keep moving to get away from the banging. I was a mad-woman with a mop and I wouldn’t let up! He was NOT staying another day in my house! I followed along the path of the crawl space banging and yelling at him until I flushed him out to the point of the vent stack. Out he went with a hippity-hop across the roof. I went onto the roof to investigate. The little #*!*@!* had gotten in by prying up the hat-like cover, loosening the screen &  jumping back in the vent stack!  So I re-tied the screen, smashed the cover back down and yelled “don’t even think about coming back!”  Well, I guess my wild crazy-woman act worked. He never came back!

(I thought about posting this story for some time, but was inspired to do so yesterday after I had to wrangle yet another squirrel out of my house. Luckily this time didn’t take six weeks to resolve, but rather, just a half hour of constructing a set of partitions from the computer tower he was hiding behind to my back door, then moving the CPU to force him out. He obediently followed the path I created and went on his way out of the house.)

Image copyrighted. Reproduction prohibited without proper licensing from Martha Lochert.

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