March 01, 2004

"You my-y... brown-eyed squirrel..."

So, anyway, I woke up at 4:00am this morning to the sound of squirrels manicly running back and forth in the crawlspace above my bedroom. They'd scamper the entire length of the house a few times then rest, sit and coo at each other for a few seconds, then run around like crazy again.

They'd been up there since Chris and I moved in nearly two years ago. Our landlady doesn't seem to want to pay somebody to get rid of them -- she'd rather have us do it. Long story short: I-I-I-I'm not climbing up into that feces infested chamber of death...

So, at about 8:00 I was in the bathroom -- just after my shower -- and the squirrels were going nuts again.
Hold a piece of corrigated cardboard over your head and pound it rapidly with your fingertips; try to make it sound like a downpour. That's what it was like. The sound of clawed, maniacal rats with blowdryers on acid succumbing to spring fever (it finally got above 50 degrees today!) echoing through the house.
Apparently the old dog became a bit freaked by the racket as Chris actually got up (he usually sleeps 'til well-past noon) to let him outside.

I got home from work at about 6:00. The house was dark, the porch light was on and the front door was locked meaning, duh, Chris wasn't home. I went into the house, went upstairs, and found the step ladder set beneath the access portal to the crawlspace. Beside the ladder was Chris' shot gun.

About an hour later Chris came home. "Doin' a little squirrel hunting?" I asked.

"Tried to," he said. "We gotta do something about this. They ran around like crazy this morning for hours! I can't stand it anymore."

Chris prepared some paper bags (cut slits into them) to put the mothballs that were still in the openned boxes that they came in (I set them up just insdie the crawlspace -- about seven boxes -- in the fall) so's he could toss them around. Maybe stirring up the mothballs would let off a stronger stench and affect the air quality in the attic.

I went online to see what I could find. As suspected: the best way to get rid of squirrels is to wait 'til spring (April, or so) and, when they're out climbing trees, set up trap cages. Once they're trapped you gotta then drive them to someplace at least 5 miles away or else they'll find their way back to the attic.
I suppose we could get some traps to set up there, but, like I said: I-I-I-I'm not climbing up into that feces infested chamber of death...

Then there were the usual testimonials to using mothballs (tried it, doesn't work), amonia (tried it, doesn't work) and annoying music on a radio placed in the crawlspace (tried it, didn't work and annoyed the hell outta me).

Then I came across something I hadn't read before: fox urine. Seems that squirrels are instinctively afraid of foxes and will avoid anywhere that they can smell their "mark".
"That might be worth a try," I thought just as a knock came on my bedroom door. "Yo!" I called.

"C'm'ere a minute!"

"Hold this bag up," Chris said as he stood atop the step ladder with his head poking into the crawlspace. "There's a dead one right there; I'm gonna drop it into the bag."

Yecch!!! He picked up the squirrel and put it in the bag that I was holding over my head as I looked at the floor.

"I thought it was asleep for a second and threw some mothballs at it," Chris explained as he climbed back down the ladder and took the bag from me. "Then I knew it was dead. Looks pretty fresh," he muttered, peering in at the ex-squirrel. "What should I do with it?"

"Toss it..." stammered I, pointing my finger in various directions, "over there, in the overgrowth."

Chris got rid of the corpse and I went back online. It's now almost 11:00 and I haven't heard so much as a paw-step, scratch, or coo from above.
I don't expect that these large Eastern Gray Squirrels will be phased for long by the aroma of freshly stirred-up mothballs, but it might be nice if, at least, tomorrow morning is a little more quiet than this morning was. I wonder if the local pet stores have any foxes I could borrow for a month or two.

UPDATE: This is everything I know about the red fox. That's the best thing about the internet: You don't have to just sit and wonder about stuff anymore. Ain't edumacation wonderble? :D

Posted by Tuning Spork at March 1, 2004 10:50 PM

I'm sure you've said this to the landlady, but getting rid of them is only half the fun. You've got to keep them from coming back. Maybe a hole or vent missing a screen in a soffit or something.

I saw something on TV about squirrels and Geico auto insurance. You could try spreading some Allstate and State Farm literature around up there. They might be contractually obligated to leave.

Posted by: Ted at March 2, 2004 07:35 AM

Some day I'll blog about the joy of trying to sleep just below an attic full of bats.....

Posted by: Susie at March 2, 2004 11:06 AM

Possums! Crash bang wallop!

Love the post title. :)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at March 2, 2004 11:50 AM

I've always seen Red Fox Urine at the local sporting goods store -- hunters use it to mask their scent from their prey. Try Cabela's and search for Red Fox Urine from Tink's. I just checked and it is $6.99 for a 4 oz. spray bottle (Item: QP-410840 ).

Best of luck. Be certain to find out how they entered (usually around chimneys and eaves) and fix the holes with hardware cloth -- otherwise you will be fighting the valiant battle again and again. Also, find the idiots who feed the fat-tailed-rats and convince them of the error of their ways.

Posted by: Mike the EE at March 3, 2004 03:22 PM
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