The Enemy Within (My Attic)

I first saw it happen last summer. Linus and I were standing in the back yard and I noticed a squirrel on the roof of our house. This in itself was not unusual; we live close to a small wooded area and squirrels are plentiful. Black squirrels, gray squirrels, even white squirrels–Yes, we are truly living the dream this on this MLK day.

But on that day the dream began to fade. No longer content to stay in their rightful place in the woods, I saw this rooftop squirrel calmly walk over to a roof vent…and slip inside. A look through binoculars confirmed the worst; squirrels had chewed through the completely impenetrable plastic roof vent and were now making themselves at home in our attic.

I was distressed, but not overly so. Ours is not a functional attic. I’ve never been up there, never even looked up there. Admittedly ignorant at the time about the long-term implications of squirrel cohabitation, I viewed this arrangement as akin to living in a duplex: They stay in the top unit, and me and my family occupy the bottom unit. As long as they were good neighbors (read: quiet and not destructive), I figured it wasn’t worth my effort or time to deal with them.

Now, it’s worth explaining here that our roof is tall and steep, and I’m not so keen on ladders. Actually, I’m fine on a ladder, but getting off that ladder onto a roof, and especially getting off a roof onto a ladder, does not agree with my terrestrial inclinations. And frankly, we never heard a peep from the squirrels that were (increasingly) seen going to and fro up and down the chimney. Good neighbors, those squirrels.

But this week, the neighbors got a little rowdy. I don’t know if it was the subzero temps or what, but suddenly we started to hear little scurrying noises in the attic. If it had been Christmas Eve that would have been very convenient as a ruse to pass over on our kids, that Santa was not only here but he was about 12 inches tall! But Christmas is over, and so is the lease on our attic.

Now, I could have tolerated the scurrying, if that’s all it was. At least for awhile. But our dog Maxine has a different philosophy regarding scurrying noises in the attic. She essentially sees this as an infiltration by her mortal enemy, and of course that means barking for eternity. (“They’re in the house! Our darkest fears have been realized. They are in the house!” translates roughly to “Bark, bark, bark!”) I could even ignore scurrying and barking for some amount of time, unless it happens at 5:30 in the morning, as it did today. In that pre-dawn instant, when all plausible deniability about our good neighbors vanished, I resolved that the squirrels must die.

Immediately.

Or, at least as soon as I could get a pellet gun. But Jane shot that idea down faster than you can pump a pellet gun up 15 times, 5 past the recommended pump limit, by saying it was illegal to shoot squirrels, and what would I do with the bodies, and I would hit the house instead of the squirrels, and blah, blah, blah. As she dashed my hopes of being the Charles Whitman of Squirrels, my thoughts turned to my mother, who was quite outspoken about BB guns and the like as I was growing up. This led my father to surreptitiously buy and supply me with a BB pistol, which led later to a dark day for all the men in the house when she discovered me trying to take it to my friend Clinton’s house for some recreational shooting. But let the record reflect that I still have both my eyes, Mom. I still have both eyes! Clinton probably does, too.

I left for work in a huff, angry that I wouldn’t be shooting any squirrels. But as soon as I stepped outside into the bitter, bitter cold, I was aghast. There were squirrels everywhere! I mean literally over a dozen squirrels, running around, frolicking, chasing each other around trees, hopping over the hardened, crunchy snow. I know that not all of these squirrels live in our house (and here I mean “our house” in the sense of me and my family and I suppose the dog and cat, though the squirrels quite probably view the term “our house” as inclusive of themselves, since they in fact live there too), but it wasn’t difficult to imagine all of these squirrels laughing at me as I walked to the car, perhaps singing the theme to the Jeffersons and waiting for me to get in the car so they could raid our garbage yet again before scurrying up to their comfortable loft condo for a nap.

Jane called me at work mid-morning to inform me she had talked to “Steve”, a specialist in the field of squirrel evacuation and relocation. When you are on a first name basis with an exterminator, that’s not a good thing. Steve would rid us of this problem, for about $600. His solution was to trap the squirrels, as apparently only a small number of the squirrels in our midst are the problem squirrels, and once those are removed the roof entrances can then be patched.

And then I remembered: Friend of Pipeline CliffP had a squirrel problem a few years back. His was even worse than ours, as his squirrels actually got into his living quarters, pooped on their bed, and reprogrammed all the channels on their remote. I seemed to remember him telling me he trapped the squirrels and then took them across the river to release them. Well, of course that meant he was bringing them from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

Hmm. I mean, what were the odds that our squirrels were his squirrels? Probably not very good, but still, I thought for a moment about trapping these squirrels myself, taking them to Minneapolis, and just seeing what happened. Or, maybe I’d tie the squirrels to little bricks and throw them into the river. The possibilities were endless, but then I spoke to KariC, wife of CliffP, who informed me that the personal trapping project was a failure and they eventually had to call in the professionals, who trapped the squirrels and disposed of them by drowning them.

So it looks like I’m going to pay a guy $600 to drown some squirrels. But it comes with a year warranty, so I’ve got that going for me.

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6 Responses to The Enemy Within (My Attic)

  1. martha says:

    I had a supervisor in St. Paul who considered squirrels to be his sworn enemies. He also trapped them and took them across the river (St. Paul to Mpls). If I recall correctly, it didn’t work. But, it sure was hilarious to watch him get so worked up over squirrels.

  2. MrFares says:

    We had squirrels and racoons in the roof growing up. I always expected to come across my father laying on his bed with my great grandfather’s shotgun pointed at the ceiling …waiting for one of those furry bastards to make the slightest sound.

  3. Sean says:

    That’s a hell of a warranty. It must feel good, knowing that if the waterlogged zombie squirrel hordes rise up out of the river and stagger back to your attic, chirping hollow undead chirps, you’re covered. Of course, that kind of thing always happens on the day after the warranty expires.

  4. pipelineblog says:

    To clarify, the guarantee is that no squirrels will be able to get into the roof again for one year. I think that means he’s putting a time lock on the roof vents.

    You know what’s even worse than being on a first name basis with an exterminator? When your kids are on a first name basis with an exterminator.

    Anyway, the trap is set on the roof tonight. There is chance that if a squirrel gets trapped there tonight it will die of exposure. I started to feel bad about that, but then I remembered these are uppity squirrels, house squirrels, if you will, who thought they were better than their tree-living kin. They’ll get no quarter from me or from Steve, the mercenary we have put on the job.

  5. KariC says:

    Don’t feel a minute of remorse at the demiseof a few tree rats. Seriously…they are the most useless animal on Earth. And they pooped on my bed.

  6. Nathan D says:

    You prefer he were “Mr. Exterminator Guy” to them?

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