Friday, March 4, 2011

I Hate Squirrels. And They Have All Gone Crazy

In my neighborhood, something is happening to the squirrels. They have gone insane. No creature that is not on a meth binge should be able to move that fast. They literally whiz around like little grey blurs and then stop. And then they watch me. And then they start their crack-fueled scampering again, and they’re gone.

It’s probably pretty obvious that I don’t like squirrels. I categorize them as level 2 Domestic Enemies. As a species, I guess they’re fine. They’re sort of cute, even though you can’t pet them and I’m pretty sure they’d bite you if they could.

In the town where I grew up (Princeton, NJ) there were a million squirrels and they were all very different. Brown, red, grey, black, big, small… Like an 80’s era Bennetton ad but for tree rodents. The story behind this was that a very old professor had been an expert, a squirrel scholar if you will, and when he died – they just opened the door to his lab. Then all the crazy varieties of squirrels just ran out onto campus and into town and began their slow and deliberate take-over. (At least, this is what my parents always told me, so read with a few grains of salt.)  They were obviously experimented on and are now all fluffy-tailed evil geniuses. There’s no other explanation for what’s happened to the real estate prices in my town since the early 90’s. It has to be the squirrels…

She thinks her children are
little terror suspects. Stupid infidel!
But I’d almost rather have those squirrels than the ones that live in my neighborhood. There’s something very wrong with them. Where I live, the squirrels are fat, over-entitled little bastards. In the summer, they raid my garden. They steal my tomatoes and strawberries the second they reach perfect ripeness. Imagine waiting patiently for the very first strawberry of the season. The whole family is excited for that first berry, which we all cherish and savor.  For days, I tell the children, "not yet, it's not perfectly ripe.  It's worth the wait!"  Then imagine watching a squirrel pluck it, take a nibble and then toss it over his shoulder like a spent Pall Mall butt, muttering in Squirrelese: “Meh. Last year’s were better.” And don’t even talk to me about tomatoes. They stole dozens of them, only to take one bite and leave the rest to rot.

In the Fall, they become manic and obsessed with collecting food for the winter, particularly nuts.  Like a sorority girl on holiday . . . or Ryan Seacrest, they must have nuts. You constantly see them zipping around with nuts in their mouth (TWSS)*.

In the winter, they’re supposed to be quiet and snuggled up under their fuzzy tails in their little tree houses (which my children inform me are called “dreys”). Aren’t they supposed to get thinner in the winter? Isn’t there less food around? I mean, at a minimum the smorgasboard that is my vegetable garden is shut down. And yet, they are fatter. I expect my dear neighbor, the newly retired and adorable Mrs. P, the animal lover, is secretly feeding them table scraps, knitting them sweaters, and buying them tiny diabetic testing supplies.

So the first inklings of springtime do not find the squirrels in my neighborhood subdued and scrawny after a long, hard winter. They’re fighting fit (or fat) and ready to party. In years past, their favorite form of springtime entertainment has been to hide nuts in my porch planters and then wait for me to put flowers in them.  Before I can wash the dirt off my hands, they come and dig my flowers up by the roots. Then they laugh. I can see them staring at me on warm sunny days, waiting for me to plant some petunias so they can kill them for sport and then flip me a tiny rodent finger.
We seriously own
this book.

And whatever spring feverish urges are causing the squirrels to race around my yard in their hormone-fueled frenzy has made them crazy. And by crazy, I mean fully insane-in-the-membrane/real-housewives-of-the-treetops crazy.  It also means they have lost any semblance of respect for me. I am a human. I mean, they should at least consider that in a contest of bigger and stronger, I’m going to win. But they don’t care.

We even bought a book to help us defeat them. It didn’t work.

Things came to a head this past weekend when I saw one jump from a tree branch onto the railing of our deck. I looked at the squirrel and he looked back at me. I opened the door and walked out. He didn’t move. “SCAT!” I hollered. He still didn’t move.

Then that little bastard looked me square in the eye and put his hands on his hips. And it was ON
“Oh OK. You’re a Disney squirrel? You have an attitude? You have something you want to say to me?” I walked right over to him and he didn’t move an inch. He just stared right back me with anger burning in his beady little eyes. “What? What is it?”

That’s when he started cursing me out in squirrel. But I'm not taking that from a squirrel so I read him the riot act about my tomatoes and how I wasn't his damn grocery store.  That made him mad.  He squeaked a couple of words that I can't repeat because this is a family publication and then he shook his fist at me.

Oh no he didn’t. So I countered with: “You want some? COME ON.”

Then he slapped me across the face. So I slapped him back. Then he slapped me again except this time he used his claws and it really hurt, so I slapped him so hard he fell off the deck. But then he hopped right back up on the railing and put two of his wee little claws in his mouth and whistled. Then a huge swarm of like 300 squirrels came surging onto my deck and attacked me. Some of them had painted their faces blue and were screaming battle cries in Scottish. Some of them were wearing hand-knitted sweaters.

"NOT WITHOUT MY FREE NUTS!"
I’m not going to lie. It was pretty ugly. The squirrels won the day, but only because there were so many of them. And they were on fortified meth.

Obviously most of that last part about the slap fight and the Braveheart battle was made up.  But the squirrels in my neighborhood are a-holes and that's the truth.  Also true? The increasingly warm temperatures and coffee grounds from the compost pile have made them act totally insane.    

And maybe me, too.  But that's what happens when furry creatures try to grab my tomatoes (TWSS).
*That's what she said.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

42 comments:

  1. wow. you have lost your damn mind. get some sunlight and take a nap. things will get better...just get an assload of cats to keep the crack addicted squirrels at bay.

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  2. I Think our squirrels are related . They suck! We have taken to throwing ice cubes at ours out the kitchen door when they are on the deck. They are not scared of me but ice sends them flying. And then it melts. Pretty funny, actually. And if I hit one ( never have) then oh well. Bastard deserved it for the crap they do to our plants, grill cover, swing set, wooden siding, deck rail, etc. Grrrr.

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  3. I am so with you on the squirrel hating bandwagon. This winter the squirrels kept stealing my birdfeed. As soon as I went back inside they came in droves, climbed up the shepards hook and stayed until everything was gone or a bigger bugger chased them off.

    I couldn't take it anymore so I scoured the internet until I found a bird feeder that guaranteed success...http://www.rollerfeeder.com/. Yes, I spent $90 on this piece of equipment and risked divorce when my husband found out the cost. I set it up, put in the food then waited by the door holding my breath for the first victims to come...and of course they did immediately as always. I watched as they tried over and over to mount the feeder from all different directions only to be spun around, tossed off in some instances and most importantly left seedless. I have spent all winter watching them try again and again with the same results feeling happier and happier. I have to say that $90 is on my top 10 list for best things I have ever spent money on.

    Now, if only I could find squirrel proof plastic Easter eggs so the little buggers can't steal the eggs, chew through them and eat my children's candy in the 5 minutes it takes me to go inside and tell them the hunt is on.

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  4. Our squirrels would sit in the high branches of our backyard pecan tree and deliberately throw pecans down on our dog, driving her insane. Between their laughing and the dog's wild barking, I was ready to lose my mind.

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  5. OOOOOO... I feel the same way except that I hate the bunnies and chippies too. The bunnies come right up and eat out of my pots on my front stoop and the chippies dig out my tulip bulbs take a bite and, yep you guessed it, toss it in the middle of my sidewalk. Perhaps we should work on battle plans.

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  6. You should write a book. Except for it being titled "Attack of the Birds" Title it "When Squirrels Attack" Ours where I live are psychotic little buggers who wait until the last minute to dart in front of a moving vehicle. You could always do what the people on youtube did. Leave a thing of nuts out for a while, let it naturally ferment and then watch them eat it drunk off their a$$e$. Probably cruel and unusual punishment. HOWEVER it might provide mild entertainment for you. Also you can try hair. My grandfather used old hair clippings to try to keep squirrels and rabbits out of his. And I've also been told steel wool helps, BUT then it would rust and that would be icky..and environmentally bad I'm sure. Either way good luck! And I completely agree with you. Squirrels are evil psychotic b@$tards intent on taking back this planet! [Insert eerie twilight zone like music here]

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  7. Oh thank Maude....someone else who feels the same way about squirrels as I do! I hate squirrels. I fear squirrels. I have been attacked twice by squirrels. Squirrels are out to get me. As an extra bonus to my life, my best friend and next door neighbor loves them, and feeds them so her yard is overrun with them. The hang out next to my house and stare at me with beady little eyes full of crazy, mocking me. I call them furry assassins, or furry ninjas. They come from anywhere..and they attack. Whenever I see a story on the news about squirrel attacks, I hope and pray the world will wake up and see them for who they really are. But no...people seem content to ignore their malice and appear ready to welcome our new bushy-tailed overlords. Sigh. At least you understand Lydia. Thank you for that! LOL

    Jenna

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  8. My father in law uses a BB gun to keep them out of his yard, I don't think I would have the heart to do that, but I have no problem sending my dogs out after them. That is what you need, is a dog or two, preferably some type of hound or terrier to chase off(and occasionally catch) the squirrels. Actually my cats are pretty decent at the job too :) If you aren't ready to go out and get more pets, borrowing a dog from a friend for a day or two might do the trick, at least for a while :)

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  9. A theme song for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zbkkVVSh3U

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  10. "Like a sorority girl on holiday . . . or Ryan Seacrest, they must have nuts." BEST. LINE. EVER.

    The squirrels in my old neighborhood thought they were pretty slick and they would torment my dog. Come down the tree just out of his reach and squawk at him. UNTIL one day, one unlucky squirrel came a little too close and my dog caught him and that was the end of that squirrel. While I was glad the evil bugger was caught, it was kind of disturbing to witness.

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  11. I have a distinct memory of my grandfather chasing squirrels out of his yard with a BB gun -- running full-sprint and yelling AAAAGGGGGHHHH as he shot at them. I was very young then, and slightly horrified. But I completely get it now. Squirrels and me, not friends. For all of the reasons you point out here. Oh, it's on, tree-rats, it's on.

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  12. Our squirrels are evil. They sit in the big hickory tree by the driveway and will literally bomb you with nuts when they can. I mean, I am not a target folks! We call them sneaky squirrel, scrappy squirrel, and when the kids aren't around $hithead squirrel. lol Squirrels bug my dog too. She's getting old though and can't put on the chase like she used to when they come taunting. The chipmunks and rabbits and birds are all cool, but those nut throwing squirrels can get annoying. Well, and when the birds use my truck as target practice THAT is annoying (from sitting in same tree). Yes, I see the common theme here but I really like my tree for all the shade it provides in the summer!

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  13. I share your hate of squirrels. After moving to a small town in TX, during my last pregnancy, our neighbors kept speaking fondly of the elderly lady who used to own our home. I can't count how many times I was told of her green thumb & the beautiful flowers she grew. I felt compelled to plant flowers & bring some beauty back to our yard. I purchased over $100 worth of beautiful brightly colored flowers & got to planting (eight months pregnant in close to 100 degree temperatures). I spent a weekend getting everything planted, mulched, new rock borders, etc. I was so proud that our yard would no longer look like an abandoned graveyard that the little old lady was able to make it flourish. I thought I had made my own mark as having a green thumb. The flowers started to bloom & everything was simply perfect. Then... the squirrels stepped in. Within two weeks the squirrels had successfully eaten/destroyed almost all of my hard work. I was determined to salvage what few flowers remained. I spent a lot of time on squirrel watch, looking out my windows for any sign of impending doom. Whenever I saw one of those little devils about to make their move, I ran out the front door with my big pregnant belly, my two sons cap guns in hand, & began firing. The noise was enough to scare the fur menaces away. I gave up after a few days of this madness, those sneaky jerks startedd doing their work before I even woke each morning. It was a downhill battle. My flowers only survived somewhat around one tree & the rest of the yard continued to look like a neglected plot of dirt. I have yet to prove my own green thumb, so now I'm even more motivated. I plan to try other tactics this spring to beat the squirrels, but will be planting more bushes than flowers from now on. I will resist the urge to put out poison as not to hurt the neighborhood cats.

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  14. I loathe squirrels as well. My kids think it is funny how much I hate them. Last Christmas, my oldest purchased me a stuffed squirrel that she found at Hallmark. Along with it she bought a pack of needles from Walmart. The child actually bought me a voodoo squirrel for Christmas! I love it! We have lots of fun with our Voodoo squirrel.

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  15. I share your hate of squirrels. After moving to a small town in TX, during my last pregnancy, our neighbors kept speaking fondly of the elderly lady who used to own our home. I can't count how many times I was told of her green thumb & the beautiful flowers she grew. I felt compelled to plant flowers & bring some beauty back to our yard. I purchased over $100 worth of beautiful brightly colored flowers & got to planting (eight months pregnant in close to 100 degree temperatures). I spent a weekend getting everything planted, mulched, new rock borders, etc. I was so proud that our yard would no longer look like an abandoned graveyard that the little old lady was able to make it flourish. I thought I had made my own mark as having a green thumb. The flowers started to bloom & everything was simply perfect. Then... the squirrels stepped in. Within two weeks the squirrels had successfully eaten/destroyed almost all of my hard work. I was determined to salvage what few flowers remained. I spent a lot of time on squirrel watch, looking out my windows for any sign of impending doom. Whenever I saw one of those little devils about to make their move, I ran out the front door with my big pregnant belly, my two sons cap guns in hand, & began firing. The noise was enough to scare the fur menaces away. I gave up after a few days of this madness, those sneaky jerks startedd doing their work before I even woke each morning. It was a downhill battle. My flowers only survived somewhat around one tree & the rest of the yard continued to look like a neglected plot of dirt. I have yet to prove my own green thumb, so now I'm even more motivated. I plan to try other tactics this spring to beat the squirrels, but will be planting more bushes than flowers from now on. I will resist the urge to put out poison as not to hurt the neighborhood cats.

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  16. I have a local squirrel that is very bold. SHE (and I know she's a girl because she got so close I could see her ummmm... teats) likes to approach us, begging for treats. Which my minions (children) have unfortunately given her.

    So one day, there I was, reading a book, sitting on my porch swing, when I look over and there she is, sitting next to me, leaning back, enjoying the gentle swaying motion. She casually glanced up at me, as though to say, "Hey. Keep swinging."

    !

    This squirrel does not get the concept of genetic superiority and species segregation. How long do squirrels live, anyway?

    --kate in michigan

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  17. I once had a dog who could catch squirrels even while tied to the back porch. She would lay pitifully and whine while the squirrels came closer and closer to taunt her. Then she would attack. It was the most awesome thing ever to watch. And sometimes for fun I would lengthen her lead to give her more room to catch them. Gosh I miss that dog.

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  18. That's freegan hilarious, we have freeloader squirrels too, they eat all the birdfood, when I see them I just let out my dogs and they scamper up a tree, then I let the dogs feel proud for what they have accomplished standing guard for a while until the squirrel freaks out. It's the most excitement we have had around here in months.

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  19. I heard powdered red pepper will keep them out of your plants. :)

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  20. Dear Lydia:
    It is my sad duty to inform you that this time of year, the squirrels are not fat. They are PREGNANT. With more climbing vermin.
    Regretfully yours,
    Burke

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  21. We don't have squirrel. We have deer. They eat out of my garden, steal the best strawberries, bathe in my sprinklers, nap under my trees, poop everywhere, and scare the crap out of me by peeping into my windows late at night.

    Before you think I live in the mountains, just know there is a Walmart in my backyard.

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  22. My dog LOVES to keep the squirrels on our block in check. I've seen them strike a pose and her just chase them off. She patrols the yard perimeter regularly...it is AWESOME! A few blocks over...they are crazy militant. Our block, they don't get any closer to the ground than 20'! Go D-O-G!!

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  23. I am joining the squirrel-hating crew. Much as yours do, my squirrels raid my tomato plants and dig up all of my freshly potted flowers. They've also decimated an herb garden and even stolen fresh cookies (which I had placed under a plastic tupperware precisely to keep the squirrels out). Damn pesky animals!

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  24. Through this whole post I kept thinking about Hammy in Over the Hedge.

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  25. I am going to risk the wrath of every single person who has commented before me by stating that I love squirrels. I was raised in the desert, which has a decided lack of squirrels, so when I moved into town I was charmed by the fluffy critters. I can only claim their novelty as an excuse. However, these squirrels did not torture my animals, raid my garden or throw things at me. They were cute and picturesque and properly frightened of humans, which only endeared me to them further. Now I live out of town again and I miss watching them. After reading this I am convinced that one of two things are true: A) Idaho squirrels are either retarded or just a gentler, albeit stupider, breed. B) They were only acting nice, getting my guard down while they plotted their full-on, blue painted, hidden spikes, kilt-wearing attack.

    Maybe it's a good thing that I got out while I could.

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  26. You need a BB gun. An honest to goodness Red Rider BB gun. Make the little a-holes target practice. Then get a cat to clean up the battlefield. Leave a few as a warning to all those who come after them, but make sure they all know you're packing and not afraid to use it.

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  27. We were overrun with squirrels at our last house, in an older suburban neighborhood. They were a pest, but they didn't make me nearly as insane as the woodchucks. (That's a whole 'nother post.) One of our neighbors, whose yard was pristine enough to be a lawn service commercial or a golf course), though, got serious about it one summer: he bought a humane trap. In three months he trapped almost 70 squirrels and hiked them miles outside town to let them go. And the population by our house didn't seem to decline that much! I figure the more he trapped, the more moved in from the next few blocks around. One neighbor fed them fresh peanuts, which they buried, and then I had peanut plants sprouting all over my yard. The walnut tree a couple houses down was another favorite source of squirrel ammunition, for burying or dropping. When I planted tulip and lily bulbs, I had to cover them with 1" x 2" galvanized wire mesh through the winter, so the rotten rodents wouldn't dig them up. What a pain. Our new house has far fewer squirrels (although they have discovered my bird feeder - I've got PLANS for them at that feeder, mwahahahaha! - *cough* er, ah, lol). But my new garden nemesis seems to be rabbits. . . .

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  28. I think your squirrels might be related to Chuck Norris.....Just sayin'.

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  29. BAHAHAHAHAHHAAHA

    OMG I know exactly what you mean!!! Here are just a few of my squirrel-related rants...

    You totally just described the squirrels where I used to go to college! Over in the wee town of Sewanee, TN, I have seen a squirrel perched on a public trash can snatch a french fry OUT OF A MAN'S HAND before he could even get it in the can. They DO act like they're on meth!

    Also, in the town where I grew up in Texas, the squirrels MAKE A DAMN POINT to run out in front of your car so you have to slam on the brakes. I swear you can hear them laughing.

    OH--and then there's the squirrel at the scout camp where I once worked who would wait in a tree by the path and THROW ROCKS AT THE LITTLE GIRLS. Its demise came when it tried to raid the camp kitchen. I seriously hope the cook didn't use that knife to prepare our food after that....

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  30. Have you checked under the hood of your family vehicles lately? Make sure they aren’t nesting I’m not kidding. They eat sparkplug covers too.

    No ****, there I was. My man and I had just come home from a two-week vacation before he left for Againistan, and one of those furry little tree rodents ate the wiring harness of our Nissan Titan while we were away. It turned the wires into a nest, and had made itself a happy home in the gap between the engine block and the hood of the truck. It was a nightmare to fix and cost us a freakin’ fortune to repair.

    Then (because it couldn’t get any worse after my husband left for his deployment,right?) the little, fluffy- tailed demonspawn built another nest in the engine. In one dang day! No matter how many tricks I tried to get them to stop, they kept coming back. FOUR TIMES IN TOTAL! Nissan is now the proud owner of my kidneys, my arm, my leg, and a non-existent first born child. Because I didn’t have a place to store the damn truck, I ended up using a friend’s garage while she was gone.

    I finally went out and bought a BB gun. I’d sit at my kitchen table, over-looking my backyard, and practice basic rifle marksmanship while I had my Saturday morning coffee. It was… in a word… cathartic.

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  31. Squirrels are rats with furry tails! I have a strawberry garden and feel your pain. The little bastards get into everything in my garden like it's damn Walmart! My suggestion, do like me, get your crew some BB guns and have 'em put some caps in their arses!!

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  32. May I just mention how much I love the image of a bunch of suburban women with T-boxes on picnic tables on the melty-snow-covered decks, brandishing BB guns. Yelling, "Squirrels, you be F*@#ED! It's ON!"

    --kate in michigan

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  33. Well, I'm definitely in the minority here. I love squirrels, and as a wildlife rehabilitator, I have welcomed them into my home. Orphaned babies are a blast to raise and release, and I've had a couple of non-releasables that I kept for many years (the oldest died at age 13, but in the wild their lifespan is typically 2-3 years).

    Yes, they can be destructive, but can be managed with judicious use of cayenne pepper mixed with petroleum jelly smeared on birdfeeder poles, drain pipes or other items where you'd rather they not climb. Crushed red pepper sprinkled in the soil can deter them from digging up bulbs in your garden.

    Or, you can do what I've done: set up a feeding station and enjoy their antics. When they're amused and well-fed, they're less likely to get into your stuff.

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  34. My pool area is screened in and the squirrels love to run all over that dang thing which of course gets the dogs wound up and they run back and forth as they watch squirrel bellies flying across the screens.

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  35. We have a squirrel problem in my neighborhood. I am solving it with a German Shepherd.

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  36. F-ing a-hole squirrels ... before my youngest brother came back from Europe (he was in the Army)he bought me tulip bulbs - FROM.HOLLAND. Stupid squirrels dug them up before they could even think about sprouting. They also mess with my garden, if it's not the damn squirrels it's deer eating my veggie plants before they can even produce.

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  37. My husband and I could have written this -- but you did it Much funnier, and Much more creative! ;)

    We've had the same issues you described - with squirrels And chipmunks.

    Had squirrels keep attacking and scrabbling at metal squirrel proof feeder until they broke it so they could eat the seed, and Eat through a big, albeit hard plastic, squirrel baffle to get to the bird feeders. We immediately went and bought a metal squirrel baffle to go on top of the plastic one. Seems to be working.

    And best deterrent we've had is using one of those big honkin cannon water gun things and shooting hard streams of water at them. Can shoot a Looong way!

    Either that or it's just the crazy writer lady cackling as I take out my character frustrations on shooting water at things with tails.

    And I must remember to break out said guns for spring since there's been crazy squirrels actually scratching at the back door recently!

    Thanks for the Great post!

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  38. Controlling squirrels ... nice try!
    This is a survivor species that is at least 25,000,000 years old, one of the most robust small mammals. Their annoyance to you is directly in proportion to your level of the control freak gene. Back off with the suburban dream and the squirrels will cease to bother.

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  39. Dear Anonymous in Sewanee, TN. YSR!!!!!!

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  40. I stumbled on this post from some old links and I have to add that your parents were right about the squirrels in Princeton. I too grew up very near there and on a school trip to the university they told us the same story. Apparently the black squirrels were actually bred there so that's the only place they exist. Not that that helps AT ALL with the squirrel problem.....sorry.

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  41. I used to think they were oh-so-cute... Until a family of them took up residence in my attic. (They're still there.) In the afternoons I can hear them chewing on things and I'm waiting for my house to burst into flames at any moment from chewed up electrical wires. I had to have my cable line replaced last week because they chewed that too. We tried trapping them, but nope. They get the nuts out of the trap without ever springing it. We tried shooting them with a pellet gun, but the second we walk out the door with it, even clear at the opposite end of the house from our target, the bastard disappears. The cats do nothing.

    THIS MEANS WAR.

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  42. Oh and I forgot to mention, with regard to the bastards in our attic, we tried blocking off their access to it and the SOB's CHEWED A HOLE THROUGH THE ROOF to get back in. Oh mah GAWD I want to make them soooo dead.

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