Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why I am drinking a beer

If you don't care for profanity, please move on to another post. This one's going to be a doozy.

Ohmyfuckinggod, a goddamned squirrel chewed a motherfucking hole through my kitchen door's screen, a good four feet or more off the ground, and it came into my house, and it had no way to get back out that little hole because it's a stupid pea-brained little nasty rodent. (Or whatever order or family of mammal it may be. Frankly, at this point, a hearty city rat isn't looking bad by comparison.)

This squirrel—or perhaps one of its vile brethren—first attempted to break on through to the other side by shredding the screen in the bottom half of the kitchen door, where there were two panes of glass in its way. So it scampered higher up the screen and, working without a net, chewed its way into my house.

I learned of the invasion when Ben, self-starter that he is, heard a noise and went to investigate it. He trotted back to the living room and said, "Mom, I think there's a squirrel in our dining room. And I'm about to cry."

No shit! I went to investigate it myself, and the sight of an animal skittering around near the top of one's dining room window or curtains, making unearthly noises, is indeed alarming. I shrieked my way back to the living room. Tried calling Mr. Tangerine at work—no answer. Gah! Called my sister while changing clothes into more squirrel-resistant denim. Grabbed my keys and my kid, went out in the building hallway, knocked on the next door, and fortunately my neighbor was home. He offered to come in (to my horribly, embarrassingly cluttered end of the condo, but who cares about that when there is vermin that needs shooing?) and help. The squirrel hid out beneath a table full of computer equipment while I propped open the kitchen door. We cleared the way, and the bushy-tailed rat-beast raced out of the house.

A half hour later, I am finishing a beer. My heart rate may be drifting back down toward its baseline. And my eyes have largely stopped tearing up.

But holy shit! As soon as Mr. Tangerine gets home, we'll tackle the kitchen and dining room reconnaissance mission. Throw away any nibbled food, right the objects that the beast knocked over, check for chewed wires and furniture, wipe up the squirrel poo (for the curious: small turds that almost look like sunflower seeds without the shells, only darker brown to greenish, and mushy. Eww!), and sanitize all the surfaces, especially in the kitchen. My kitchen! Despoiled by the vile creature.

The initial findings are as follows: Chewed on my wheat bread (gnawing through the plastic bag), but had only a bite. (Now, was all the trauma worth it, you little bastard? I hope you learned your lesson.) Did not touch the Hawaiian bread or the pumpernickel bagels. Toppled a computer speaker. Knocked a travel mug onto the floor. I'm sure plenty of unhappy surprises await.

I'm not starting the cleanup process alone because I want some company in there. (Ben concurs with my current opinion of squirrels: He says he hates them, and they're cute only in pictures. Did you know those fuckers have been flossing their teeth on my car? Yes, the hard plastic parts where the windshield meets the wipers and the corner of the hood have been gnawed through, too. And they've chewed up the wooden porch railings belonging to my upstairs neighbors, as well as going through the screen into the third-floor unit a couple years ago. Fucking bastards. (The varmints, not the neighbors.)

But I am ready to move forward with other practical squirrel-related matters. Any suggestions? My sister recommended replacing the kitchen screens with dog-proof screens, but I'd need to make sure that squirrel teeth and claws can't break through the screens that resist dog and cat claws. And I wonder whether these are like the Sopranos of squirreldom. Do they just expect us to pay tribute in the form of a birdfeeder kept stocked with birdseed? I'd rather feed them out in the back yard than in my kitchen, but if you negotiate with squirrels, then the terrorists have won. Do you have any other ideas? I'm listening. Listening, and hoping to never hear the sound of a freaked-out squirrel tearing through my house and chittering like a demented alien.

I am feeling rather angsty and violated by all of motherfucking squirreldom. It may be time for another beer.

(If you're in the mood to read about other ways in which squirrels violate the compact we thought they had with humans, read Flea's write-up of Alex's birthday party two years ago—quite by coincidence, I discovered that the mom of the kid whose party Ben was invited to was actually a blogger I'd been reading for months. But the squirrels at that party, they were some psychotic bastards, no lie.)


Klynn said...

Short-time lurker piping up. Tree rats, cute from a distance, cheeky little bastards up close. I'd go with a temporary bird seed tribute, to get them nice and comfy (but out in the yard), then throw out a couple of humane squirrel traps then get Mr. Tangerine to haul the little f*cker(s) off to the nearest park, or wooded area or landfill, depending on how humane you really want to be.

Good luck getting rid of the buggers. Slinking back to lurkdom.

Choco Pie said...

Long time lurker. A squirrel got into my sister's 1920s bungalow while she was at work, and when it couldn't get out, it spent the day chewing up all the gorgeous woodwork around her windows, all through her house. I hope the little fucker got splinters in its gums--it completely ruined her woodwork.

But they are cute.

Indie Mom said...

I'm laughing my head off, yet in a panicked state. I KNOW we have mice in the kitchen. I see the little poops. I hear them at night knocking the tupperware around in the big bottom drawer. I'm too scared to get out of bed and investigate.

Tomorrow I'm going to get 2 kittens. Never had mice when I had a cat. It vanished 6 months ago, though. Maybe think about that to keep the varmints away from your property.

Good idea to sanitize everything.

Psycho Kitty said...

Fifteen years ago when I was visiting a friend in DC, they roped off a big part of this park right by the capitol buildings because, no joke, squirrels were attacking people. We sort of laughed at it on the news but not so much when we walked past the yellow tape to get to her office the next day!

Mona Buonanotte said...

We have lots of cute vermin squirrels in our neighborhood, and thank the jeebus they don't do anything worse than chase birds. The kids call the black one with the white tail "Thunder". I have no idea why.

For you? Attract owls. Big, mean, muthufakkin' owls. Owls that will put the hurt on the vermin.

Or put birth control pills (chopped) into some bird seed for the squirrels to eat, so they cease to reproduce. Little fukkers....

Oh, and have another beer...or two.

No Nym said...

I'm with you on the pit bulls, though I do adore squirrels.

My dad had one get in his house, through a hole drilled w/ natural gas installation. It was living under (and in, and via) the cereal cabinet. He plugged the hole, and was wondering how to get the squirrel back out. Uh, unplug the hole?

No Nym said...

Hehehe. I just remembered, my HS history teacher, who in the process of shooting a chipmunk inside his house (don't ask) put a hole in the freezer, downstairs.

flea said...

What with this and the birthday party, you should host your own show on Fox - "When Squirrels Attack."

E. said...

Hilarious. You should go to the This American Life website and listen to the squirrel afire story (on the fiascos episode, I believe). You will feel a lovely sense of revenge against the fluffy-tailed rodent kingdom.

Then again, Chicagoan that you are, you've probably heard that episode of TAL repeatedly, and again during pledge drives.

The Absent Minded Housewife said...

You are free to borrow my dumb gay cat. It's constantly killing things in my yard and eating them.

Ken Houghton said...

Red pepper. In quantity. To keep them away.

Otherwise, I'm with lynn; squirrel traps are very good.

No Nym said...

You can also spread mothballs around the nominal entrance.

Anonymous said...

We live in a large midwestern city and have a large backyard, featuring all the urban wildlife: numerous species of birds, plus squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, mice, voles... (and yes, we live IN THE CITY.)

Nevre had trouble with any of them save once - we put out birdseed both in feeders and on the ground, and shelled corn for those that don't like birdseed - at some distance from the house, which I'm sure helps keep 'em at bay.

The once was two years ago, when a red squirrel moved into out garage and took up residence (built hisself a nice nest) under the hood of my brand-new VOlvo. Sonabitch used the hood liner for nesting materials, and laid in a nice supply of walnuts for the winter. I got home from an erand whe I heard rattling (which should not be the case on a two-month-old car) and had a look. I stopped counting walnuts when I'd removed 30 of them, and I wasn't done.

We live-trapped the little fucker, drove him 30 miles out into teh country, and released him unharmed into a forest.

Are we not kind to animals?

momo said...

I have an episode for the show. I once came home in November to my locked second floor apartment to find papers moved, a vase knocked over, and various other signs of an intruder. It took me half an hour of panic to realize that it wasn't a person--I heard a scrabbling noise in the kitchen. The squirrel was hiding in a cabinet. Trying to get it out of the building was a story, but I finally did. As I walked back through my place, assessing the damage, I discovered that it had taken the basket of hazelnuts I had in the kitchen and hidden hazelnuts all over the house: in my shoes, under my pillow, in my kid's toy box. For weeks after that, I found nuts in the oddest places. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how it had gotten in. I finally discovered that it had gotten in by chewing a hole through the plastic accordion wing thing on my window air conditioner. I figured this out because I was sitting in the living room reading the paper when it waltzed right in again.
good luck with the chew resistant screens. Your local Animal Humane Society chapter may have ideas about how to squirrel-proof your house!

Anonymous said...

Dried blood, which you can buy at the garden center and it's not expensive, has worked for me. I'm told that coyote urine (also at the garden center) works well but I've never tried it.

Anonymous said...

Squirrels chewing on things? Try this-

1- Order Dave's Insanity Sauce. (Or locate in store near you.)

2- Once received, water down, about three drops per cup of water is good, u can always experiment. (careful, this stuff is PAINFUL, wash hands lots after using/ dont touch eyeballs etc.)

3- Apply to tasty looking surfaces. Paintbrush works great.

4- Laugh evilly.

Now, squirrels can taste spicy stuff just like us humans. And having your mouth set on fire when you try to chew certain things is an excellent deterrent.
And, while squirrels (and humans) have capsacin receptors, birds don't, making this a good way of defending bird seed too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, they're smart little MFs, they are! We had a problem with the critters in our attic and tried EVERY humane option to get 'em out. First recommendation we tried was a combination of round-the-clock lights (of the Christmas strand variety), pans of ammonia, and (I kid you not) round the clock talk radio. After a couple of days, the squirrels apparently figured out how to turn of the wireless speakers. The lights and ammonia apparently didn't disturb them.

We tried human traps baited with peanut butter. They figured out how to get the peanut butter *directly off the trigger* without tripping the trap.

Eventually, we managed to figure out how they got in and seal it off while they were out.

All I can say is good luck. They're smarter than us.

Anonymous said...

If they get in again, darken your whole house and then open the outside door - they'll run right out.

Also, I had a similar story to the one from Sandra - someone who had one get in while they were away for the weekend and it gnawed on every wooden surface in their home and destroyed expensive wood work.

If you do get a trap, you really have to drive them far away - they'll travel up to 50 miles to get back to their home territory.

Anonymous said...

There are some crazy ass squirrels that like to run around the carport roof at way too early hours. I hate them.

Pat said...

I have a squirrel intruder (who hasn't come in yet this year, but I'm sure he will try again).

The screens the contractor had his workers put in my windows were vinyl. Someone was here to paint in the bird room, and put up a screen window between the dining room and the sun porch.

He called to me and said "Pat come look at this". There the squirrel was eating food out of a dish on top of the flight cage. The birds didn't freak out, I opened the front door and he we out. He had chewed several holes in the screen which is a wide one that slides sidewise open.

I had some vinyl hardware cloth that we put up outside the window. Of course said squirrel had no problem with that. I saw him at one of the holes and he looked like he was just coming in. Nope, he left a corn on the cob that the cockatiels and budgies were eating in the sunporch.

He has put a hole in the screen in the laundry room (mud room) and he put some holes in the screen in the kitchen.

One night I came home, and said squirrel was in my bedroom, and bounced off the walls, and then off the shelves in my closet, and then he finally headed for the bird room and rushed out the hole that still isn't repaired.

Does anyone know of a screening that would be more squirrel proof?
The sun porch gets pretty warm for the birds in the summer on the hot days, so I will need to have the windows open.