Returning to the Scene

Earlier this fall, when I had just moved into my new house, a squirrel was living in my attic.  He had chewed a little hole in an old wooden vent up there, and would squeeze in during the morning and run around above where I slept in my bedroom making all sorts of scrabbly noise in the walls.  I went up there within the first week of moving with a flashlight and had an encounter with him one afternoon.  He had backed up to his entrance/exit and looked shocked.  I was an intruder in his home, after all.  I promptly scared the hell out of him yelling, and sent him out the hole, where he sat on a ledge and occasionally peeked his head in to make sure he hadn’t just imagined a human had come up into his attic.  The house hadn’t been occupied in over a year, maybe close to two years, so I’m not surprised he couldn’t believe someone had come up into his penthouse.  I hoped the scary confrontation would be enough to make him stay away, but within a couple of days he was back, scrabbling around in my attic.  I went up again when I knew he wasn’t in there, and soaked a cloth with ammonia and stuffed it in the little hole he came and went by.  Squirrels notoriously hate the smell of other creatures urine, and will avoid having to smell it at all costs.  But it’s not really the urine itself they despise, it’s the ammonia scent.  Hence the ammonia-soaked clothe I stuffed through the hole.  I then bricked up the space between his hole and the wall so that, even if he got past the awful smell and pushed his way back in, he couldn’t get past the bricks.  This worked like a dream.

And now, two months later, I woke up to hear some sort of chewing just off to the side and above my bedroom.  I hoped I was hearing things lingering from my dream, but it didn’t go away and I knew something was going on outside that needed looked into.  I went downstairs and slipped on some shoes and went outside and around the corner of the house only to find, yes, the same squirrel I had evicted two months earlier.  Chewing on the wooden vent, trying to make a new hole to get in.  The ammonia soaked rag blew out of the hole during one of the windy winter storms in the past couple of weeks, and now he could venture back and give it the old college try to get inside again.

I was furious, and yelled at him.  He was frightened and furious, and yelled back at me.  I chased him from one corner of the house to the next, yelling.  I forgot I was in a populated street in the city and probably woke up some neighbors.  The dog in my neighbor’s yard in back began barking.  The dog in the side yard of my other neighbor’s house began barking.  I was yelling.  The squirrel was grumping and barking and huffing and puffing.  I threw tiny apples from my apple tree nearby it, to try to get it down off the roof.  After twenty minutes of me and the dogs and the squirrel all barking at each other, the squirrel finally descended on the front side of the house, ran across the street and climbed up into a tree, still barking back at me.

After trying to be kind and get the little monster out of my attic without killing it, as some have suggested–through traps or poison–I find this return two months later unacceptable.  And slightly pathetic.  Is this what man against nature has become in this part of the world?  Man against squirrel?  Despite it’s pathetic nature, this squirrel is totally starting to ask for me to take steeper measures.  I’m going to find a way to secure a little ammonia-soaked cloth up in that wooden vent he’s trying so desperately to get into today, but if I have to I will buy a trap as suggested and release him in some faraway wilderness, and then we’ll see how mister city-slicker squirrel fares out in the countryside.  Despite his annoyance, and his unnerving confidence upon any confrontation with me, I still don’t want to resort to anything that would kill him.  I may just have to ban him from the neighborhood altogether, though, if he keeps this up.






7 responses to “Returning to the Scene”

  1. fivehusbands Avatar

    Chris, Have you thought about a tiny squirrel condo (free nuts for a month) in one of your trees? Judy

  2. Maureen McQ Avatar

    Bob’s company used to have their engineering offices in a building that was otherwise mostly occupied by the IRS. Bob was coming back from lunch one day and a woman who worked at the IRS got out of her car and got out one of those little luggage carriers that airline attendants sometimes use. She had a sizable briefcase strapped on it. As she crossed the parking lot towards the door, it made a kind of steady ‘squeek squeek squeek’ of rusty metal. Then she started shrieking. She had been attacked by a squirrel. It ran up her onto her head. Bob went out and help her scare the squirrel away by stomping, but the squirrel, a big old male with patches of white fur where he had been scarred, didn’t retreat too far. Woman started towards the door, squirrel attacked, Bob waved his arms and stomped. Bob ended up guarding the woman all the way into the IRS building.

    The squirrel had either scratched her head or bitten her. Since she is a government employee, Homeland Security was called and Bob was interviewed by Homeland Scecurity regarding his part in The Squirrel Affair. He’s pretty sure something in the squeeking enraged the squirrel. Like your squirrel, it did not seem to understand that both woman and Bob could, if sufficiently enraged, stomp it to bits. Or that attacking a predator that far up the food chain is not a characteristic likely to get passed on to progeny.

    But the important moral in this is that the woman had to get the rabies shots. So Chris, be careful with a squirrel that doesn’t seem to understand that it’s your house now.

  3. Lucy Avatar

    I fully appreciate your love of the natural world, but be careful with this aggressive little bastardo! Also, if you need bait, beef jerky worked really well when we had to trap a raccoon in our garage…he was in the cage within seconds.

  4. fusakota Avatar




  5. Christopher Barzak Avatar

    Thanks, all, for the advice. I’ll definitely be careful, Maureen and Lucy. No rabies shots needed here, that’s for sure! 😉

  6. mapelba Avatar

    I just came to your blog from “into the labyrinth” and I’m glad I did. Your book will go on the list (and will get read!). Congrats on the award, too. And just to say, my dad insists that he got rid of a squirrel by blaring music into the attic. Of course, he also insists he played Michael Jackson’s Beat It over and over, so I’m not sure he’s telling the truth.

  7. Christopher Barzak Avatar

    Thanks, mapelba! I hope you enjoy the book!

    I’ve heard of blasting a boombox in the attic works, too, and actually thought about doing that initially. The critter is out, most definitely, and his hole has been bricked up. It’s just that he occasionally comes back to chew on the wooden gable, thinking he might be able to make another entrance through it. 🙂

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