Our semi-rural neighborhood has always had lots of critters running around in it — skunks, raccoons, foxes, squirrels and even an occasional javelina. It makes the place interesting as long as they don’t invade the house, spray our dog Chester or dig up the yard.
Three weeks ago, we went on a week-long trip to visit our grandkids in California and kept Chester at a kennel during that time.
Apparently that was all it took for the local ground squirrels to decide that our back yard had become abandoned and they proceeded invade a woodpile in the southeast corner of the property. A squirrel airbnb, so to speak. We started noticing them as soon as we came back — a couple of larger adults and a squoggle (my word) of cute babies.
They began to mercilessly torment Chester, who would dash out the back door when he spotted one and fruitlessly try to catch it before it ducked into the cover of the woodpile. Eventually, he snagged one of the baby squirrels, which I guess for a dog is some kind of a rite of passage. He didn’t kill it, but flogged it around in front of us so we could see how brave he was in protecting our home from the rodents. Clearly maimed, I picked it up while it was still lightly breathing and placed it somewhere that I hoped it might recover. I didn’t see it again the next day, and I suspect a cat, fox or sunk may have done it in.
At this point, my wife and I figured we probably needed to do something to get rid of the obvious nest that had been established in the woodpile. We went to Tractor Supply and bought a humane trap and set it out. We used apple slices slathered with peanut butter and topped with pecan half as bait.
In the first day we caught two, one an adult and the other a baby. I caught three more babies last week and am hoping I can snag the four or five more that I believe are still cavorting inside the woodpile and laughing at us and Chester.
I have released all of them west of here in an open field lined with trees on one side, a pecan grove on the other and an irrigation canal nearby. I thought it would be a pretty friendly place for the critters. I hope they all make it and don’t make life too difficult for other homes that are nearby. I do worry that they might get squished while trying to cross the nearby road, but they’re pretty quick. As smart as they appear, I hope they’ re not like dogs or cats who routinely make it back to their original homes.
And we hope they’re sending negative reports to airbnb about our squirrel condo so that others won’t think it’s a cool place to visit.
We’re thinking a squirrel review might read:
“It was a nice place to stay, but it was disconcerting when we noticed many of the guests suddenly disappeared while investigating this large metal thing sitting at the edge of the woodpile.”