SQUIRRELS ARE GREAT BUT NOT WELCOME INDOORS
have told this story before but feel its worth repeating because
already this spring I have been asked the perennial question how
do I get flying squirrels out of the attic? Years ago, when all
four of our children were still living at home, we too had a problem
with these adorable nuisances.
slept upstairs and complained constantly that the squirrels scrambled
between the walls all night. So I decided to set a live trap,
a metal box with slam shut doors that mammalogists use to capture small
I set it
with the universal bait peanut butter. Flying squirrels are cute,
with large, dark, attentive eyes. Attached to their front and back legs
on each side of the body is a flap of fur-covered skin.
legs are held out, the flap is extended and stretched flat, permitting
the squirrels to glide through the air with the greatest of ease.
worked, and while my wife was getting the children ready for school,
I crawled from the attic to show off the catch.
us six humans and three four-legged pets gathered in the living room.
We listened to the scurrying inside the metal trap.
was our fat black cat, full of stealth. For an instant, the stilettos
at the ends of her toes were unsheathed. I knew she would like to demonstrate
her predatory skills.
was a vacuous eyed cat, much loved for her inoffensiveness. Her predatory
achievements consisted of one trophy a car struck robin I had
seen dead on the street two days earlier. Martini laid it gently at
our feet while we sat on the front porch.
a big, cuddly shepherd, the delight of babies and little children, but
a fearsome watchdog. His repertoire of barks ranged from a meek as a
field mouse whimper to a roar that could jeopardize mail delivery to
houses half a block away.
of us gathered around the captured squirrel as I lifted the door of
the trap to peek inside. Our first ecology lesson of the morning was
that flying squirrels can squeeze through tiny openings.
point things happened fast. The squirrel glided from the trap to a chair.
Children squealed. B.D. roared. Martini hid in a closet. And Kahlua
made a graceful capture on the chair until Jennifer grabbed the cat,
who released the squirrel unharmed.
B.D. had knocked down Michael and Susan in an effort to get to the center
of the action. The flying squirrel scampered under the sofa. Everyone
was shouting advice. No one was listening.
of us except Martini headed toward the sofa; the squirrel retreated
into the bedroom. Eight of us followed as B.D. and Kahlua led the pack.
shoved my way through the door, I saw the squirrel reach the top of
the curtains, take a quick assessment, and sail right over our heads,
back into the hallway. I rushed into the hall but saw no flying squirrel.
an anxious search, looking under furniture and behind curtains. B.D.
was sniffing. Kahlua pretended to be aloof and disinterested. No flying
squirrel. My wife, Carol, was not happy.
calmed down and, still casting inquiring looks around the room, the
children prepared to leave. Then Laura picked up her sweater. The squirrel
glided out of a sleeve and into the dining room. More barking, more
squealing, more loud advice.
caught the thing under the dining room table, got bitten on the hand,
said some bad words, and hurled it into the air. In the blink of a cats
eye it scampered up the stairs, through the attic door I had left open.
decreed we would trap no more flying squirrels. As an ecologist, I declared
we should learn to live with our native wildlife.
listened to flying squirrels all night until springtime, when I released
a rat snake into the attic.
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