By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
We thought it was over. Three months ago, I wrote about a squirrel invasion in our garage and the two-week battle my husband waged against them and won – or so we thought. The holidays passed quietly with no signs of squirrels re-entering the attic space above the garage.
But last week we had a nasty cold snap when temperatures plummeted into the single digits and the neighborhood squirrels were freezing their bushy tails off. We think that’s what triggered their return. So the squirrels are back – and this time it’s personal.
The current battleground for the Great Rockwood Squirrel War of 2011 is the attic above our second floor. As I walked down the hall toward my writing office, I heard an all-too-familiar scratching sound coming from a hall closet. At first, I assumed one of the kids had accidentally closed our housecat into the closet and she was scratching around to get out. But then I realized the cat was right behind me, staring intently at the closet door while her ears perked up at the strange sound and her nose twitched suspiciously, as if she had registered the intruders.
“Squirrels,” I thought. “They’re back.”
I went downstairs to break the news to Tom. He came to investigate and listened by the closet door. The sounds were so loud that I was sure if we opened the closet door, a squad of angry squirrels would come flying out. Cautiously, Tom cracked the door open and peered inside. There was nothing there except some Christmas decorations and a few storage boxes full of old photos. But the squirrels sounded close, and we figure they’re probably traipsing through the attic or somehow climbing down behind the closet wall.
What makes this squirrel incident worse than last time is that I can hear them clearly from my writing desk, and the “toenails on a chalkboard” sounds they make are driving me nutty. A little while ago, I got up from my desk mid-sentence and went over to the wall and banged on it as loud as I could while shouting at the top of my lungs, assuming I could scare them into silence. But they went on scratching and bumping as if I wasn’t even there, although the kids were certainly alarmed by their mother’s rage against a wall that didn’t seem to have done anything wrong.
Tom climbed up into the attic on another squirrel hunt but didn’t see anything but a sea of blown-in insulation, with no obvious squirrel hole in sight. So I decided to call in reinforcements.
The first pest control company I called told me simply, “We don’t do squirrels.” But I got lucky on the next call, and the woman who answered said they did have a squirrel catcher on staff. When we spoke, I recounted our ongoing tale of woe and he sympathized, saying that squirrels are, indeed, incredibly hard to deter when they make up their mind to chew a way into your house. After he asked me a few questions, he said they were likely getting in through an attic fan vent and agreed to come have a look and set some traps.
I’m hoping this guy is some kind of squirrel whisperer who can help us evict the furry intruders once and for all. By the sound of what’s going on behind the walls, I’m concerned they’re in there building some kind of squirrel city complete with a state-of-the-art gym and a Starbucks. What if they organize and stage a coup in the middle of the night? What if they invite their second cousins to move in with us, too?
If any of you have waged your own victorious squirrel war, send your best battle strategies to us at the email address listed below. We need all the help we can get.