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Life can get pretty squirrelly

Someone is in the attic. He’s loud, noisy and an early riser. He’s also uninvited.

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.

 

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Rick Gualtieri - Hmm, I would have loaned you our cat, Angelina for free. She’s this tiny, friendly little thing who also just so happens to e a confirmed murder machine.

A while back we had a hole in our room. Before we could patch it, a few squirrels got in. Our attic has various nooks, crannies, and engresses that allow a rodent to travel from there down to the vents in our basement.

I have never seen Angelina so happy. Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best to shoo the squirrels outside safe and sound. However, she was simply put just better than me.

The worst part was where she left one of them. I had a few plastic bins in front of this one closet. One day the closet door was open. I went to slide it shut. Something was blocking the door. I reached down, past the bins, thinking it was a kids today. I felt something furry. Thinking it a stuffed animal, I picked it up. It wasn’t. Major freakage thus ensued. Stupid cat!

Shirlene - Knowing you personally, as I read I was totally picturing you with broom in hand banging on the ceiling, making noises and sleuthing around to try to find the entry point to try to get Mr. Peanuts out!! I laughed out loud reading.
Glad you had success and no one got to eat em!

Tammy - Hi Shirlene, well, it wasn’t funny at the time but we are snickering now. Life’s adventures come in all shapes and sizes. And we are rarely prepared. You learn something new every day! Thanks for being here and posting!

Tammy - Hi Rick, I’m still laughing about your story. I know all about major freakage having had cats all my life (still laughing). They love leaving little dead critters around the house, probably for their future amusement or a gift to you. Not awesome. I certainly could have used Angelina, if only to chase them out. I’d be a bit richer right now. The removal of wild varmints isn’t an inexpensive venture and I’ve learned that as smart as I thought I was….this little squirrel was smarter. In the end peanut butter was his “doom” and my savings grace. I’m changing brands from Jiffy just as a support of solidarity. I’m hoping I don’t run into him in a dark alley someday as I think I would be the worse for it. All is well that ends well, right?? Let’s hope all parties involved live happily ever after. Thanks for posting, it’s a pleasure having you here!

Joan Cooper - Gosh Tammy, and you are not even in ‘open space’

Tree squirrels cannot be touched by law, even if they move into your bedroom. Ground squirrels can. Where I live, I deal with squirrels, possums, racoons and skunks. Maybe also some I have not named. Just like upscale Hidden Hills. It is called “open space”.

Like you, I wish them no inconvenience. I suffered watching a ground squirrel in the cage with food but no water for 1 1/2 days. I use Stanley Pest. The guy is so nice and knowledgeable. The cages are clean and not rusted. I lost a canary once to rust in a cage.
That is what the Vet said anyway.

How to co-exist. That is the problem.

Joan Cooper

Nancy Wurtzel - Oh, what a tail (sorry couldn’t resist). I think I hired the father of that trapper when we lived in the SF Valley in the 1990s. We called him “Trapper Bob” and he was at our house a lot. Our problem was rats, since we had so many fruit trees. Rats are not nearly as cute as squirrels. Thanks for a great post and for holding your ground and taking the lil critter to the park. You done good! Hope you are sleeping well….

Tammy - Hi Nancy, great minds think alike, was musing to have that as part of my title. I’m telling you, this guy was something else. Not very social, and didn’t seem to have a lot of common sense (coming to the house without calling, etc.) but then again I guess he doesn’t have too much human interaction on a daily basis. We all have something we are good at, right? This morning’s sleep was a dream but as I lay in bed this afternoon (foot surgery has kept me down) I heard some scratching. Yup. I’m pretty mortified and will have to wait to see what I hear tonight and in the morning. Maybe there was a Mrs. Peanuts after all. And so it continues …. good grief! Thanks for visiting and posting!

Tammy - Hi Joan, well, I guess I live in “open enough space”. We have a few squirrels (could be the same one over and over – they all look alike to me) who are in our backyard and drink from our pool. They cause no problem (until now) and they love the many trees in the open spaces between the houses. Co-existing is never easy on either side. It all seems a bit unfair but it is the way things are. My goal is to be peaceful, and have our attic be squirrel free. As it is, I think I heard some romping and scratching up there this afternoon. Oh, no! Will wait to see. I’m not sure I could tell the difference between a ground squirrel and a tree squirrel. I will assume that one has protection and one does not. No matter, I will stand up for the squirrels right to live happily…. somewhere else!

Scott Morgan - Speaking as a vegan who digs animals (and has a grudging respect for the highly crafty, if squatter-prone squirrel), I appreciate that you drove him to a nice place in the woods. If I move into your attic some day, pleas extend me the same courtesy 🙂

Tammy - Scott, dude, consider it done. Even though my truth is that I am crafty impaired I can’t help but admire this little guy. Kind of hated to see him go. I wanted to have a mano to mano conversation with him about the rudeness of moving in to someones home but I thought better of it. When he outfoxed the trap, I almost cheered. I’m hoping it was a happy ending for him. I love the park, it’s lakes and shady trees. At the end of the day, I would wish to be respected and cared for as much. Happy for your visit and thanks oodles for posting!

Susan - A great visual ! Glad that it was a squirrel, and not something bigger and meaner !!
When I was young, a squirrel fell down the chimney in to the living room. The tail was grabbed and off it came…not a pretty sight !
Be glad that it was only in your attic !!! Get some sleep now !….zzzzzz….

Trenna - This story illustrates what kind of woman you are…a hysterically funny woman with a heart. Love, tk

kellie kennedy - Tammy
all I can picture is Bill Murray in cadishack with
Mr. Goffer! U know how that ended! 🙂

Tammy - Hi Susan, OMG that is a terrible story! I’m hoping that he was already dead when that happened. Eeewww. This little squirrel stopped to visit us each night as he climbed the wall past our window and stared at our two cats (who would wait patiently for him). They would all look at each other for a couple of minutes and then he would move up the wall. It was almost like he was a weird part of our family. We have enough weird going on, thank you very much. Hopefully the noise I now hear attic is not Mrs. Peanuts. Good grief! So happy to see you here!!! Thanks for posting!

Tammy - Hi Trenna, awww, thanks for that kind thought. I’ll take it! I love that you read me and that you stop in once in a while to post a thought. It’s always appreciated, as are you!

Tammy - Hi Kellie, I can see you chuckling now. Yeah, it wasn’t far from it. What a not so awesome experience. I’m not a fan of trapping wild animals and relocating them far from their known home. Feel terrible about it. I know he is wild and he will do fine but still, even animals have and love their family. Of that I am strongly convinced. Thanks for the post, always love hearing from you!

Jan Rossi - I thought I had a squirrel in my attic, turns out it was a tree branch hitting the roof. It made me so paranoid! I can totally understand having something over your head like that scampering away – and going through your Christmas ornaments too! lol. Good story!

Tammy - Hi Jan, welcome! So glad you enjoyed the read. Knowing that I was sharing my home with furry critters doing God knows what up there was a bit nerve wracking. How could a tiny little squirrel make so much noise?! I mean, it sounded like a herd of elephants up there. You’re right … it made me paranoid. I kept thinking that at any moment it would come crashing down into our bedroom. But the havoc the noise caused every morning was just crazy. I had to do something. Drastic times call for drastic measures. I can only hope he is as happy in his new surroundings as we are in our newly found peace and quiet. That is … until next time. So happy to have you here and hope you come back again. Thanks for posting!

Charity Kountz - Love this! I could never be intentionally cruel to a wild animal. Although there was this one time… I honestly didn’t know what I was doing, I’d never had any experiences with mice before. Oh, I will never forget it though. It still makes me feel awful.

To be honest, I was pretty thoroughly provoked. After all, the mouse did decide one night he was going to bed down in my hair at three o’clock in the morning. Right by my ear. And invite his friends. Not a very good idea in my opinion. What would you do if you woke up with mice literally staring at you in your bed? I screamed, they squeaked and went helter-skelter in every direction.

After a month of not getting any sleep, I admit to making a rather hasty decision. The maintenance man hid mouse traps all over the house. You know, the kind with the sticky tape?

That night I awoke to the most awful shrieks. I thought it was my daughter at first. Nope, it was a mouse. I’m pretty sure it was my bed buddy. That poor little sucker put up a ruckus, let me tell you. He’d managed to get stuck on a trap behind the refrigerator – probably went there looking for food and warmth. I tried to help him, really I did, but every time he shrieked and thrashed made me jump and cringe and I just couldn’t figure out how to free his four little paws. He was stuck but good. So I did the only thing I could think to do… I took him outside and dropped him into the trash can and put the lid on tight.

Suffice to say, shortly thereafter I moved and have never laid another mouse trap. I kinda figure if they’re willing to fight that hard for the space, they can have it.

Tammy - Hi Charity, OMG I’m cringing at your mouse escapade. How awful. For the mouse and for you. I think if I had done that it would haunt me for years. I imagine I would hear a high squeaky voice in the middle of the night saying “save me … save me”. No thanks! That’s when I get on the phone to a neighbor and bring in outside help. Once there was a mouse stuck in my dryer vent. I could hear it and was unable to run the dryer for days. Finally got my neighbors to take it all apart and set it free. I was so relieved. They freak me out big time, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be the cause of a mouse death. I don’t have the same feelings about roaches. A girls gotta draw the line. I spray those suckers and hope they will eventually die. Since it is the only insect that dies of starvation 8 days after having it’s head cut off, I’m not so sure….and don’t really want to know. I don’t lay traps either, or poison, but I say a prayer and put it out in the universe that they all bypass my little house and move in with my neighbors. After all, what are neighbors for? Loved hearing your story, thanks oodles for sharing!

Josden john - I loved these images captured with the pretty and cute squirrel

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