Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Critter Issues

Today I am about at my wits end. One word should explain. SQUIRRELS!

We apparently have the tastiest deck in the neighborhood. One of the fluffy-tailed varmints has been chewing all up and down part of the railing. Not attractive. Until I moved it, our potted hybiscus tree served as a nice hors doeuvre platter. Leaves, branches, and of course the "just ready to bloom" flower buds. All fair game. One little scavenger in particular would pull those buds off and sit there on the railing and eat them like they were acorns. Last year when everything was so dry, he bit a hole through the bottom of a planter so he could take a drink after dining...perhaps to mitigate the effects of his "hybiscus high". Then for variety, he would hop up from the railing right into both hanging planters of sclavera...and chew through the flowering shoots about an inch above dirt level. The flowers have a hard time surviving once severed from the plant...but apparently our little critter has no interest in helping us maintain the aesthetic beauty of our deck. Food is food.

Fortunately, we discovered and installed a birdfeeder that is impervious to hungry squirrels. They tried in vain for several weeks to figure out how to reach the seed. Now five or six of the little pests can be seen dining on the seed scattered on the ground by the undisturbed bird population. We have found no similar solution to our deck invasion.

This might not be quite the mystery to me if we didn't have one of the largest oak trees in all of Wake County smack dab in the middle of our spacious back yard. Acorns everywhere! More food than you could ever want if you were a squirrel. One would think!

Now, don't get me wrong. I think little animals are cute, just as much as the next guy does. I've been known, when vacationing out west, to take photos of squirrels and chipmunks. Truth is, when we're on vacation, and the critters are thousands of miles away from my deck, they ARE cute. But here at home, I have no use for them.

So this morning I'm sitting in my office, and I keep hearing a noise on the roof that sounds a bit like a bird building a nest (wrong season for that...I know). I could see nothing from the window, so I decided to go downstairs and step outside to see if I could see anything. You guessed it. Right up near the gutter, there was the pesky little critter..staring right down at me. I spooked him, and with what I swear was a guilty look, he turned, ran over the top of the roof, and was gone. Then I looked over again where he had been. I happened to notice what looked like a rust stain at the end of a piece of wood trim that I was sure I hadn't noticed before. The longer I stared at it, the more I came to realize it wasn't a stain at all. It was CHEWED WOOD! That little varmint was eating my wood trim, and now there is an area on the end that is bare to the elements. The perfect recipe for rotting wood. Great! All well beyond the height of any of my ladders (not that I'd climb up that high even if I DID have a larger ladder!).

I've never handled a firearm of any kind, let alone shot one. But let me tell you how close I am to getting a gun (or borrowing a friend who comes with one!) to shoot the little tree rats! I know that might offend some PETA people (depending, of course, on whether you think PETA stands for "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" or "People Eating Tasty Animals"...I've seen both T-shirts!). This, of course, would be a last resort. But I'm close. Dangerously close. A critter eating my deck and plants is one thing. One who eats my house is, well...close to DEAD.

If anyone has a more humane suggestion for dealing with these pests, I'm all ears. If not, you better get ready to cover yours!


Brian Megilligan said...

You could give this a shot...!

Doug Holden said...

Awesome! What a "foxy" solution! Somehow my previous Google searches did not some up with this product. Kept hearing that cayenne pepper would do the trick (it didn't!).

And no earplugs needed! I'm adding it to my cart TODAY!