No, it’s not Uncle Al; it’s a resident squirrel.
A little over two weeks ago, we were awakened before sunrise by a loud thumping and bouncing noise in the attic space above our master bedroom. Clearly someone was having a good deal of fun and it wasn’t us.
Being the naïve humans that we are, we thought to ourselves, “whatever it is, it will find its way out and that will be the end of it”. Fat chance.
Days turned into two weeks and each and every morning began with the squirrel waking up the household. In the battle of squirrel vs. human, the squirrel was winning.
Picture this: at exactly 6:10 every morning, the noise in the attic begins. By 6:11, our two cats are going ballistic trying to climb the walls to get at him. By 6:12, the dog is barking and chasing the cats. By 6:13, there are two adults sitting up in bed with fur flying, a medley of barking and hissing, covers rumpled and loud noises coming from the attic. It’s no wonder that after two weeks of this we are exhausted. Something had to give.
Now, let me make it clear that I’m a big fan of wildlife and I care about preserving their environment and welfare (PETA, are you listening?). After all, they were here first and as the superior species it shouldn’t be too difficult to outsmart the varmint. Good luck with that.
While investigating pest control companies and their policies of getting rid of unwanted rats, squirrels etc., I was advised that the way they treat the problem is to bait them with poison and let nature takes its course. That’s nature taking its course?! I’m sorry, but where I come from, its murder. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but murderer has never been one of them. I’d like very much to keep it that way.
I rescued a squirrel once that was hit by a car and had a broken leg. The vet bill was over $320 and that didn’t include rehab (no snickering). I wasn’t about to take a squirrel out on purpose.
Besides, I can’t bring myself to kill something that stops by our bedroom window every evening on the way to our roof, twitches his whiskers and winks (he’s either winking or giving us the stink-eye). I mean we are technically casual friends and neighbors.
Still, we never invited him into our home and I have asked him politely to leave. He is undeterred. That makes two of us.
As consistent as clockwork, this little squirrel pops in to our attic at exactly the same time each morning and proceeds to rearrange the ‘furnishings’: dragging, thumping, thrashing and gnawing. Wait … gnawing? Oh, that can’t be good.
Mr. Peanuts (clearly we have already lost the battle since we’ve actually named this wild animal), has a mind of his own. We have taken to pounding on the ceiling with a broom and shaking the entry to our attic to scare him. It works … for about 5 minutes. After that we swear we can almost hear a high pitch squealing that sounds a lot like laughter.
Here we are; two grown adults (up for debate) being outfoxed by a squirrel. I get the feeling we are not the first home he’s visited and probably won’t be the last. It was time to get serious.
We got up on our ladder to view the roof to see if we could spot his point of entry. We repeated this effort all around the house until we noticed a vent and could not detect if it had a screen on it. We deduced that this was the access point. I’m sure my eyes deceived me but I thought I saw a tiny little welcome mat at the mouth of the vent. Nah. That’s impossible.
So I started the deluge of calls trying to find a service that would come to our home, go into our attic, lay a civilized trap (that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one) and come back the next day to take our guest outside and free him into the wild, but not before we screened his entry point. This would be where we stand (hands clasped together) and sing “Born Free”.
Awesome! We had a plan and it couldn’t fail. The cost of this fail proof plot: $150.00 assuming the removal did not become extensive. Extensive? It’s just a little squirrel. This was going to be a cakewalk.
When our “wildlife trapper” arrived I was less than impressed. Before me stood a young man with large loop holes in his ear lobes and over 50% of his body covered in tattoos. He was rough around the edges and my first impression was not the best. Still, he was polite and I was desperate.
Two traps were set (just in case there was a Mrs. Peanuts). Skippy peanut butter was its lure. It was a sure thing.
And so yesterday morning at 6:10 we heard him enter the attic. We heard his little feet jumping around, our cats going ballistic, then our dog chasing the cats, then silence.
When our wildlife expert came to collect his prey, we found the trap empty, the peanut butter gone and the trap door sprung. I stood tiptoed on the ladder looking into our attic in complete shock and confusion.
Truth is I immediately had a new found respect for this little guy. He was smart, fast and not easily intimidated. All traits I long to be in my day to day. I’ve had relatives with far less determination than Mr. Peanuts. No, this squirrel was admirable because not only did he defy the trap but he ate all the peanut butter.
Our second attempt was successful. There he sat in the cage chittering away at us. He was a very unhappy camper. I wasn’t thrilled either. It was a relief to know that his morning visitations had come to a halt but now I had to face having him ostracized from the neighborhood. But wait … what if his family was here? What if it was a Mommy Peanuts and there were little peanuts depending on her? The trapper said he would take him far away and release him. By the looks of the man I thought that it was far more likely that he would take him home and put him on the BBQ (so much for not judging a book by its cover).
That’s when the debate began. I proposed that we drive Mr. Peanuts to our local park where we could be sure he had lots of space, a water source and about a billion trees. No one was thrilled with this brilliant idea. I would not take no for an answer as I simply needed the peace of mind of knowing that Mr. Peanuts wasn’t going to end up in a redneck casserole because of me. After some argument we placed the cage in the back of the truck and headed off to the park. He was released running into the creek area and never looked back. Sadly, no one was in the mood to sing “Born Free” so I hummed it to myself.
I know we did what we had to do. I know we did the best we could. It is survival of the fittest after all. I just can’t help but feel that all species have a right to live; a right to have a roof over our heads (or a tree), food on the table (or nuts in the ground) and a future to be lived.
One thing Mr. Peanuts was not entitled to was a rent free situation in our attic without so much as a lease agreement.
I find myself wondering if he is okay, if he misses his family or if he is in utter wilderness bliss. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
It’s obvious that I’m a pusher over when it comes to animals. It is a kindness that I appreciate about myself. Still, I wouldn’t mind having a heart that was just a little bit harder.
I’m quite sure life would be easier that way. It also would be more cost efficient.
Total cost to relocate Mr. Peanuts: $325.00.
A good morning’s sleep in: Priceless.