Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why I Don't Like Squirrels

Photo credit- Flickr : Doug Wheller

Back in high school when I still lived with my parents in their basement, my younger brother and I fought an epic battle against the deadliest of foes.

We came home after school one day and headed down to my room which was in the basement next to my father's office. Walking by his office I noticed something was wrong. It was trashed beyond belief. Tiles in the drop ceiling were down, papers strewn about everywhere, and shredded paper covered the floor.

We thought that someone had broken in but noticed that nothing was gone anywhere else in the house. Once before, we had trouble with animals gaining entry to our house when a mother raccoon decided to have her babies inside our chimney. When my parents came home,  we told them what we saw and they called our local animal trapper. Trapper Dan.

Trapper Dan surmised that a raccoon had somehow gained access to the attic and somehow was getting into the house. My room and my dad's office were located towards the back of the basement near the laundry room and could be isolated by closing a door between that space and the rest of the house. We kept that door closed and Trapper Dan put animal traps with cat food bait in the laundry room and attic to catch the critter.

Of course, I still slept in my own room but kept the door closed although I didn't sleep that much because at night I would hear the scratching in the walls. It seemed like it was everywhere!

The next morning, I got up to use the bathroom and was sitting on the throne when I heard the scratching right behind me. It was in the walls! I finished up and cautiously entered the laundry room. The cage was there but the cat food was gone, the culprit made a clean getaway!

We couldn't figure out why the trap hadn't caught them. These raccoons were really smart, so we re-baited the traps.

We went about our business as usual. My brother and I went to school and we returned later in the day, I was frankly sick of having to open the isolated door everyday and make sure nothing got past me into the rest of the house. I needed to do laundry and had to be in that room to get it done.

I loaded up my basket and snuck into the back room. As a turned the corner I came face to face with the culprit. THE SQUIRREL. It froze. I froze. I stared at it and it's little beady eyes stared back and me.
The Beast

Having watched Christmas Vacation a billion times in my life I knew that catching this squirrel was not going to be easy. Catching it in a coat and smacking it with a hammer was not ideal. Clark Griswold taught me that.

I had to keep him from going back up through the wall and escaping and I needed to end this now.
I slowly backed out of the room quietly, letting him proceed with the cat food, hoping that he would be there when I got back.

I rushed upstairs to find my brother "Brett! I found the animal, it's a SQUIRREL!" Brett looked at me, narrowed his eyes and said "The only good varmint, is a dead varmint."

We went into the garage looking for anything to suit up with. Imagine the scene where Rambo prepares for battle. We certainly didn't want this thing to attach itself to our face. We didn't know what it was capable of and my mind kept going back to the Monty Python rabbit scene.

My brother decided on a catcher's mask and and umbrella. I grabbed my BB gun, a hockey glove for the exposed hand, and my helmet. I really wanted that catcher's mask as I envisioned it's little paws gouging out my eyeballs out but I had the gun, not to mention I was 6'7"! How difficult could it be?

We crept slowly downstairs and acting like a movie SEAL team trying to communicate with hand signals. I pumped the BB gun an insane amount of times. "WHAT?" my brother said too loudly. "Shhhh! We don't want to scare it. It's go time." I said and we went in.

The squirrel was there, still eating. It stopped when it saw us and reared up on his hind legs. I thought it was going to jump at us. It looked toward the wall at the escape route. I took aim and shot it before it had a chance to disappear.

Photo by http://pensivesquirrel.wordpress.com/
It went down immediately and we celebrated. But both my brother and I were hesitant to make sure it was really dead.  We had seen enough horror movies to know that this moment was exactly when Chucky popped up and claimed his victim. Cautiously, I walked up to it and poked it with the BB rifle.

That's when it popped up and made a run at us. I tried to kick it and Brett took a mighty swing like Frank Thomas trying to put The Big Hurt on the retreating squirrel. He connected and in the process hit the side of the washing machine, the umbrella shattering into pieces as he lost his only weapon. "I'm out!" he exclaimed and peeled away from the tiny invader.

The squirrel, stunned but still not out, popped up again and started to go towards the space in the wall from whence he came. My brother is not a person of blazing speed but in that moment, he rose to the occasion. I felt like I was watching it in slo mo.  In one deft movement, he grabbed my basket, dumped the laundry, and tried to pin the squirrel to the ground with his new implement.

Unfortunately, there was the pipe from the A/C unit running to the drain in the floor impeding the contact with the ground, giving the squirrel an inch of space to work with. It flipped and writhed towards that space knowing that if it got out it was free to eat more cat food. "Not today squirrel!" he yelled imposing all the force physics would allow.

The epic battle between my brother and the squirrel raged on. I reloaded in slow motion and pumped the BB gun until my arms ached. It was time to end it. I finally stood over the squirrel and said "Hasta la vista squirrel" and bagged the little rodent.

Since that day, squirrels have acted differently around me and the squirrels in other states have taken notice like there is a secret society that has me marked. I have no love for squirrels. I own a Yankee Flipper bird feeder for this reason. My dad has battled with squirrels. He even had to extract one that crawled inside the cage of the squirrel proof feeder and got stuck.

I don't even like the cartoon squirrel from Ice Age. And while some other bloggers like Dadscribe enjoy squirrels, I do not. There are Facebook pages like Squirrels are Evil and Are Taking Over the World and there are groups like N.A.D.S dedicated to an anti-squirrel movement. All I know is that ever since that day, the deal with me and squirrels was off. I wouldn't want it any other way. Game on squirrels, game on.

UPDATE : Last summer,two squirrels decided it was a good idea to chase each other up my downspout and got stuck. So I heard a scratch, scratch, scratching noise that I couldn't figure out for days. The bottom squirrel died and the top one was alive and I had to extract him myself. If that doesn't give you the heebie jeebies, I don't know what will.

Only one squirrel was harmed in the making of this post and if you think they are cute and innocent, check out the below video.

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