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I maligned a squirrel

May 22, 2016

Last fall, I saw a red squirrel dash under my deck and disappear.  My sunroom is built on top of that deck.  I have wiring under the deck, power cables, a telephone cable, and an ethernet cable.  Squirrels like to chew on wiring.  I was alarmed when I saw it do that.  The deck does have a plastic skirt that covers the space below it, but there are gaps below the skirt in a few places, and also at one end where the wiring came in from the house.  After it snowed, the squirrel kept going under my deck.  I could tell by the tracks in the fresh snow.  I was even more alarmed.  I tried plugging up some of the gaps with lumber, but the squirrel just found another way in.

Even though it was right on the ground, no doubt the squirrel felt safe and snug under there.  The neighborhood cats couldn’t get in.  I gave up trying to plug the gaps in the skirting.  After all, a red squirrel could squeeze through tiny openings.  All winter, I was worried about my wiring.  Finally, I removed all of the skirting on one side.  That would allow neighorhood cats to get under the deck.  That would make it less safe for the squirrel.  That was all I wanted to do in the winter.  Was it too late for my wiring?  I made plans to put a metal screen around all sides of the deck in the spring.

One warm day in the spring, I vacuumed the carpet in my sun room.  I picked up the phone, my $9.99 phone that had been out there all winter.  The phone was dead.  That little red squirrel had chewed on my phone wiring.  What about the ethernet?  It was the same type of cable, just longer.  Both ran through the same conduit from the house.  Both ended in the same receptacle in the sun room.  I tested the ethernet with my laptop.  It worked perfectly!  It was only the phone line that the squirrel had chewed.  Every time I saw that squirrel in the yard, I projected hatred towards it.  Because of that little animal, I’d have to replace the telephone cable.  I bought a length of flexible tubing that I could put over both cables and attach to the conduit at both ends.  That would at least provide some protection for the telephone and ethernet cables.

I wonder if the phone is still okay?  It was fine after the previous winter in the sun room.  I brought it inside and plugged it into a phone jack that I knew was good.  It was still dead!  The phone had gone bad.  Maybe the wiring in the sun room is okay after all.  When I took my other phone out to the sun room and plugged it in there, it worked perfectly.  The wiring was okay!  I had unfairly maligned that little red squirrel.  Better yet, I didn’t need to replace the phone cable.

I am still going to install the flexible tubing over the two cables.  I may still get more of that tubing, and install it over the power cables too.  Even that will be annoying to do.  There’s only about 8 cm of space below the deck.  The cables don’t need protection from moisture, but they do need it from small animals with sharp little teeth.  I’m still planning to put some sort of screen all around that space too, but this is not as urgent as I thought before.  I suppose I should even be grateful that that little red squirrel didn’t destroy my wiring.  Still, I don’t want to take that risk next winter.


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