The Eastern Grey Squirrel. He and I go way back.
When I was a graduate student I had to walk across a large grassy commons area that was studded with mature trees and squirrels to reach the building where I taught one of my composition classes.
Students loved to feed these squirrels. Thus they naturally viewed all humans as a food source.
They worked in packs. Two would run up behind you, scale your backpack and snuffle around for food, gnawing at your straps. Their hot squirrel breath scalded your vulnerable neck. Others bounded around under your feet, hoping to bring you down.
These are wild animals, people.
Their behavior was wrong, scary. A Bad Thing. Not funny. Was I the only one who saw that?
Each week it grew worse. I began to plot how to get to the building crossing the least amount of green space possible. But there were so many of them; these squirrels seemed to be everywhere.
I started attaching myself to others, students who looked like they were in a hurry or looked like they could defend themselves against a pack of ravaging squirrels. They were human shields, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that.
You see, squirrels know how to torture me.
And they enjoy it.
Think I’m nuts?
Well, walk a mile in MY life web before you pass judgment, my friends.
Squirrels have chewed holes in my bird feeders, my patio furniture, and the lid on my trash cans.
They take one bite out of a tomato and then drop it to rot on the garden path(where I’m SURE to see it), or playfully nip the heads off my tulips and scatter the petal on the sidewalk. Are they hungry? No, but they do enjoy torturing me and giving me messes to clean up.
I know all God’s creatures have their role in the web of life.
But, boy do I hate being stuck there with a squirrel.
I once lived in a house where someone had taken down the chain link fence between it and the neighboring house, but they’d left the metal fence posts in the ground. (Why? Because they were lazy, I think.) Some of these posts had caps, but most didn’t.
One morning I looked out my kitchen window and saw a squirrel jumping from post to post. When he got to an uncapped post, he paused to explore and promptly fell head first down the hollow post. His back claws scrambled mightily for purchase, and believe me, I was pulling for him to get himself out. Couldn’t do it, though. The pipe was too smooth and he couldn’t get a grip. He struggled and struggled and struggled.
I wanted to ignore it. It gradually became clear, though, that if I didn’t do something he was going to die like that. So I put on some gloves (leather driving gloves that were completely useless) and went outside with a broom in hand.
My plan was simple. Give the squirrel something to grab.
I stuck the broom handle under his flaying back legs. No good.
Then I recognized the real problem.
The squirrel was wedged in the pipe. The only way to get him out was to pull him out. To do that, I had to touch him. In a way he wasn’t going to like. I began to breathe a trifle hard at this point, but when I looked around for help, none was evident. I was on my own.
So I grabbed the squirrel’s tail and yanked hard, flinging the thing away from me as he started to come free. The squirrel, being the ungrateful rodent he was, did his best to reach back and bite me, tearing into the useless leather glove before my high-pitched screaming broke his concentration and forced him to let go. The squirrel lay prostrate on the ground, panting and glaring at me. I retreated to the house and burst into tears. (For all you tender-hearted types, the squirrel was just fine, but I wasn’t.)
Remember how squirrels love openings? Well, one evening when I got home (same rental house as above) from work, I followed a path of destruction from the front door of my house to the kitchen, where my hysterically barking dog had “treed” a squirrel on the curtain rod. Judging by the urine and feces streaking the curtains, the squirrel had been up there for some time, but the dog remained optimistic she could catch it. Overly so, but then that was her nature.
I ordered the dog out the back door and she looked at me as if I were insane. Didn’t I realize there was an intruder in the house? She was a medium sized dog, around fifty pounds of overwrought canine indignation. Finally, I got her out of the house and locked her in my car to slobber over the windows and tear up the upholstery while I tried to get the squirrel to leave.
This was about as easy as you’d think it was.
The traumatized squirrel darted from room to room, but never went near the front or back door that I’d propped open. After two hours of this, I was finally able to trap the squirrel in the front entry and it streaked out the front door to safety.
My house was a shambles, though, with torn draperies, overturned lamps, and animal droppings smeared on the walls and windows.
My landlord insisted I was imagining the squirrel invasion until he started poking around in the dropped ceiling in the hallway and the skeletal remains of two squirrels fell on his head. (I couldn’t make this shit up, folks.) He sealed up the attic and declared the problem solved, but I’d had enough and moved out.
I wish all squirrels would do the same.
And don’t even get me started on chipmunks.