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Cute but Destructive

January 31, 2016

Yes, they are cute.  Squirrels, I mean.  They’re the finest acrobats, jumping from tree to tree with complete confidence.  Sitting on the ground or perched on a branch, with their furry tails curled up behind them, they make a pretty picture.  We have both red and grey squirrels in my area.  The smaller red squirrels chase away the larger grey ones, but only for a short distance.  Somehow, they still live in harmony.  I have an oak tree in the front yard and another one in the back yard.  Last summer, they had an enormous crop of acorns.  On windy days, you’d risk getting hit by falling acorns if you went too close to them.  Squirrels were scampering all over the yards eating acorns last fall.

A few years ago, when my old garage was still standing, I decided to leave my garage empty for the winter, and park half-way down the driveway.  That way, I only had to shovel snow from half of my driveway.  Many times I looked out the kitchen window to watch the squirrels and their antics.  They would pop down into a tunnel under the snow and disappear.  Some time later, they would pop out of the tunnel and scamper up the oak tree.  It wasn’t until I opened the garage in the spring that I found out what they were doing.  The floor of the garage was littered with acorn shells.  They’d built a nest behind a row of cabinets that sat against one wall.  Their tunnel under the snow dipped down underneath the garage wall.  They had the whole place to themselves all winter.  I had two long extension cords hanging on hooks along the wall.  Both of them had cuts from their sharp little teeth on each loop of cord.  I put tape over the cuts on one of them so that I could use it for my lawn mower, but it didn’t last very long.  Eventually I replaced it with a new cord.  A few years later, I replaced the garage too.  The new one doesn’t have any openings where squirrels can get in.

When I moved in to my house, there was a sun porch on the back.  It was in bad condition, and got worse each year.  I didn’t know how bad it was until I decided to tear it down.  One year, though, I noticed green shoots emerging from the wall behind a cupboard.  When I removed the panel, I discovered that the wall cavity was full of acorns.  Clearly, a squirrel was getting in there.  I put metal over one of the openings.  The squirrel kept getting in.  I put down moth balls.  The squirrel kept getting in.  Finally, I closed up all of the openings with metal.  That kept the squirrel out.  Next came the yellowjacket wasps.  It never ends!  The sun porch had to go.  I only found the carpenter ants when I demolished the sun porch.  Now, there’s a very nice sunroom, gleaming with glass and aluminum, where the sun porch used to be.

My sunroom is built on a deck.  The deck is almost at ground level, with a plastic skirt closing the gap on all three sides.  I did the wiring myself.  There’s a fan with lights hanging from the ceiling, with the wiring inside the metal roof.  On the floor, I put four waterproof outlet boxes, for power, telephone, and ethernet.  All the wiring for them runs underneath the deck, close to the ground.  I expected it to be out of the way and dry under there.  This fall, I was horrified to see a red squirrel shoot across the lawn and under the deck, just squeezing below the plastic skirt.  All that wiring was under there.  Squirrels like to nibble on wiring, to sharpen their little teeth, I understand.  What am I going to do now?  There are several places where the squirrel could slip under the skirt.  I could plug them up with lumber, but the squirrel might just find another.  I certainly want to do it while the squirrel is away from home.  If the squirrel is trapped under there, it will just use its sharp teeth to make a hole in the plastic skirt.  I can fix it properly in the spring, but what do I do now.  Should I just wait for spring and hope that the squirrel avoids the wiring?  Maybe I should remove a section of skirt and introduce one of the neighborhood cats to my deck?  I’m going to try that.


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