They’re. Trying. To. Kill. Me.

Most of us go through life without any significant cares. Sure, from time to time we might get sick, or get served with suit papers or go through a bankruptcy or something, but for the most part life is pretty serene for those of us in the good ol’ U S of A. But for the rare few, life can take on the characteristics of a John LeCarre spy novel, and I must confess to my friends here that this is the turn my life has taken.

I have finally seen it all clearly: they are trying to kill me. They are actually trying to kill me. “Who is trying to kill you?” I can hear you all asking. The squirrels. The squirrels are trying to kill me.

I know, it sounds crazy, right? Why would the friendly little squirrels want to kill me? How could something with a cutely bushy tail be so outright malevolent? It’s the nuts. It has to be the nuts.

I moved into the idyllic life of a midwestern suburbanite quite a number of years ago. Yes, I have had the occasional disagreement with a neighbor and am carrying on a low-intensity campaign against some moles who have determined to turn my lawn into a subterranean McDonald’s Play Place, but these are normal happenings. And right from the beginning the squirrels and I have had an understanding. I have provided them with all of the free walnuts they can eat and they leave me alone. What could be simpler?

Things took an ugly turn about two years ago when I went to squirt washer fluid onto the rear window of my car. I could hear the little motor whirring, but no liquid came out. I began to trace the problem and soon discovered that something had chewed the little rubber hose in two. I did not think much of it at the time, because those sorts of things can happen when you occasionally park a car outdoors in a wooded area. It could happen to anyone, right? I fixed the little rubber tube and the washer now squirts all the bluish fluid I need for a safe and clean back window.

But something has happened that makes me look back on the washer incident with some new suspicion after I recently got my car back from a dealer service. I had not though much about the little red air bag light glowing on the dash panel. I asked them to check it when I was in for some other service, and their call-back shook me. “We found a wire that had been chewed by some critter. It’s gonna be about $350.” I did not gripe about the cost. Well, OK, I did gripe, but it didn’t help. “It’s an air bag wire so we can’t just splice it, we have to replace that part of the harness.” That’s not the part that bothered me. The chilling part was that the squirrels managed to disable the air bags in my car. It was clearly by the Grace of God that I got in for a repair before they chewed through one of the brake lines and sent me careening to my death. Or maybe the plan was to jump out from under the seat and onto my lap, causing me to scream like a girl and run into a tree? (They are probably hoping it will be another walnut tree so as to shake some food down to ground level).

I thought back to the washer tube. Did the rodent accidently chew the wrong tube? Was he aiming from the one that sprays the windshield? A lack of washer fluid in our sloppy midwestern winters could be dangerous. Or was he just trying to send a message? Perhaps it was necessary preparation to steal all of the insulation from the firewall behind the engine to get to the right wire? I wondered what they wanted with it – silly me, I just thought that maybe they were cold and needed some insulation for their nest. Now I am not so sure.

What could I have done? Was there some extra ration of walnuts I should have been paying as protection? If so, I missed the memo. Or are they just on a mission to drive the human settlers back southward towards the old city limits so as to reclaim the area that our forebears staked out and developed during the Eisenhower Administration? At this point, it no longer matters. The photo up top was taken last week as one of them was surveilling the window of my home office. Gotcha Dude – I was in another room and surveilled you instead!

In any spy novel worth reading, any time the protagonist realizes that there is a contract out on him, he simply does not pack his bags and run away. Instead, he now knows that there is a plot afoot and he plans his response. Forewarned is forearmed, and all that. I know, but I have been taking care to not let the squirrels know that I know.

A nephew has a large antlered deer’s head hanging on his bedroom wall. Perhaps I should ask to borrow it. It might be very effective if that squirrel wakes up one morning with that gigantic deer’s head staring at him. He has probably never watched The Godfather, but I don’t suppose it is necessary to have seen the bloody horse head in the bed scene to get the right message from a dead deer head in your nest.

Or maybe I should just go right to the part involving a nasty reprisal. Between the two cars, I have 8 fairly large tires under my control and there is a big, long road that they have to cross some time. I trust you can keep this between us, but I am going to bide my time and wait for the day when one of them lets down his guard. Get them before they get you – isn’t that more wisdom from The Godfather? We also have some foxes and coyotes around here, so maybe it is time to start feeding them. Sure, someone else’s cat (or two) may be collateral damage, but everyone in this life knows that unintended harm sometimes cannot be helped.

If nothing else is clear, this one thing is: It is now apparent that it is either going to be the squirrels or me who comes out of this alive. I’ll let you in on something – it IS going to be me. Or at least I hope it is.

24 thoughts on “They’re. Trying. To. Kill. Me.

  1. Ha Ha, this is a timely entry! I am currently looking out for a buddies house about 4 blocks from me, I stop by every day on my two mile walk to take in the mail, check the house exterior out, do a little salting and shoveling the walk if it needs it (so far this year, we’re OK), OH, and yeah, bribe the squirrels! Part of my duties every day is to spread out a bowlful of non-salted, in the shell peanuts, for the squirrels!

    My buddy is a hard-core gardener, and he’s been battling the squirrels for years to stay out of the plants. A while back, he hit on the idea that he could buy a wholesale large bag of unsalted, in the shell, peanuts from Menards, and spread a little out every day for the squirrels and chipmunks. Viola, it worked, no more chomping on the shrubbery! BTW, chipmunks are hoarders and squirrels are year long foragers, so the chipmunks pack it away for the winter, but squirrels are on the prowl and happy to get the goods all year. When I throw out a bowl towards the end of the deck, by the time I leave, it’s mostly gone!

    I’m not going to say this is going to solve your problem, but it’s worth a try! You can buy a hell of a lot of wholesale unsalted peanuts for $350! As added fun, in the summer, when were out on his deck having a martini, we keep a bowl on the table, and the squirrels and chipmunks run right up to you, and sit patiently, while you hand them a peanut, which they take from you with their tiny little hands, like being in a Disney movie! Can’t we all just get along?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ahhh, a diplomat in the crowd. πŸ™‚

      But isn’t that the same thing as the “protection money” the Italian businesses used to have to pay in the big cities? “Nice car you have there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it. Especially if you were in it.” But there is some wisdom in what you say – at least the cost of the protection payments would be low.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those are some destructive squirrels. Thankfully the squirrels here are much more docile.

    One I have noticed – and this is like light beer, so it isn’t for everybody – is our having been adopted by a feral cat has really kept the squirrels off the ground. Plus, kitty has had a few snacks of critters who didn’t keep to their end of the bargain. The tradeoff has been squirrels jumping from the oak tree out front, landing with a weird bang on the roof, then scurrying to the elm tree behind the house.

    All of this could also be an opportunity for you. Might this be a good way to approach Marianne about the need to have at least one vehicle old enough to not be equipped with an airbag? Think of all the money you could save, $350 at a time. I’m really trying to help you here. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the assist! Yes, a simple enough car can avoid all kinds of repair bills.

      Between Andy’s suggestion and yours, I am starting to see a progression: Buy peanuts, feed/fatten the squirrels. This will bring the feral cats who will get fat from the squirrels. Which will bring the coyotes who will much on the fat cats. I may need to get ahead of this and bring in a tiger or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll second Jason’s comment about old cars being more squirrel proof, I think vintage wiring harnesses are a little tougher and less tasty to boot.
    I was considering this fall how chipmunks and red squirrels are generally perceived as cute, and grey/black squirrels are not.

    If inflation and turkey shortages continue you may want to get yourself an old copy of “The Joy of Cooking” which contains instructions and diagrams on how to peel and prepare squirrels. If you’ve ever seen the mouse scene from the Disney movie Never Cry Wolf (which somehow isn’t on YouTube) eating critters seems to keep the other ones away.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was always used to a lifetime of grey squirrels, then when I was living in Washington DC, I was amazed by the jet-black squirrels, I thought someone’s cat got out! For all the years I lived there, I never got used to them, I stopped to watch every time I saw one!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, I don’t think I will get Marianne on board with the “squirrels as food” thing. Although she likes a good bargain, so . . . . ?

      You remind me that a squirrel was responsible for the first warranty claim on this car. I took it in and described what sounded like a wooden ball rolling around in a metal area under the windshield. They kept looking and digging and looking and digging, I had a loaner car for several days, they were working with Honda engineering, and finally called me back very sheepishly to tell me that they found a walnut. They had no idea how it got there, and the service guy said they were so embarrassed by missing it, they were not going to charge me.

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  4. Ok, here’s a more relavent clip. Don’t let the squirrels do this to you:

    That’s from that great cultural touchstone Strange Brew. My favorite part of this sequence is that the van must build up quite a bit of speed, because where it crashes into the lake is about 40 miles away from the hill! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OK, I’ll come clean here: I hate squirrels. They’re annoying and destructive critters — ranking just after ticks, jellyfish and spiders on my list of animals I don’t like.

    Aside from their destructive capacity on things like cars and houses, there’s the nut issue. One of my daughters is severely allergic to nuts, and our neighborhood squirrels often leave opened walnuts on places like our front step, on the porch furniture, or right outside our front door. Grr. I call them Terrorist Squirrels, and they clearly know what they’re doing.

    Back when I was a kid, my folks had a bird feeder that (of course) attracted more squirrels than birds. So dad got this idea that he’d train the squirrels to stay away from the feeder by shooting them with a BB rifle when they’d approach. I spent many hours perched at my bedroom windowsill with dad on winter days waiting for squirrels to approach so we could shoot them. The idea wasn’t to kill them, but to scare them away from ever coming back. I guess dad gave more credit to squirrel intellect than they really deserve — what a preposterous idea, because obviously squirrels don’t have the capacity to “learn.” Goodness dad, what were you thinking?? Occasionally we’d actually kill one (it’s tough to actually kill a squirrel with a BB but it can be done). That was the only way they’d learn. But somehow I suspect my current neighborhood wouldn’t look too kindly on that type of squirrel control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The idea of an air gun has entered my mind, but I live within the city-county boundaries and I am pretty sure that discharging a gun is illegal here. The yards are big, but not that big. I have never been a fan of little dogs, but I am starting to wonder if a good rat terrier would do the trick.

      I had not thought of the nut allergy thing – that would certainly be a problem.

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  6. Wow – I always thought it was the MICE that ate the rubber/wires. I didn’t realize that Squirrels go under the hood too. Not good at all! My Air Bag has lit up too. I’ll have to have that checked, maybe the Squirrels have eaten some wires…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you should get that checked. I understand that newer cars use some kind of wiring insulation that is more easily degradable or recyclable, but carry an unintended side effect of being appetizing to wildlife.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ha ha – as a squirrel lover, you knew I had to be snickering a little throughout this post. I laughed out loud at this: “Was there some extra ration of walnuts I should have been paying as protection?” I think I mentioned to you last year when you commented on one of my squirrel buddies posts, my boss went to Northern Michigan and parked his car and didn’t drive it for a week. On the day he went to drove from the Upper Peninsula to the Detroit area, the car wouldn’t start. It required a tow many miles from the boonies to a GM dealership who had to then locate parts from another dealership/auto supply place as they did not have on hand – apparently the bushy-tailed rodents had trashed something by gnawing on it. There is a soy product in the wires that the squirrels like to chew on, thus that is the reason for gnawed wires. I’d make friends with them, promise them endless nuts and that may enable a truce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did think of you when I was writing this – I figure that your bribes are rich enough and regular enough that you never have these problems. I guess the squirrels know who their friends are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I wasn’t trying to be smug when I wrote it and now you will smile at this … yesterday I was sitting at the kitchen table, happy that I didn’t lose power during those high winds and out of the corner of my eye, the window notification in my landline phone said “in use/line busy” … just like that. I called from the cellphone – it was busy. It was fine as I had some junk calls earlier. So I Googled around – there was an AT&T outage in my area … it was fixed this morning, but it’s static-y now. Great – likely more squirrels gnawing on the fire. This happens once a year.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great point – if things go dark here, someone start a search for me in a retention pond somewhere. At least I hope the squirrels will stop at causing a car accident and will not go full-Willard on me. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. BTW, just a suggestion. My Dad was always battling the squirrels to stay away from the bird feeder, and we had planned to buy him a Super Soaker, unfortunately he passed away that fall. No reason to be mad at squirrels for being squirrels, and I’m amazed at the people talking about BB guns and actual firearms when the Super Soaker is the elegant solution! My Dad would have had a blast smoking his cigar and “washing” the squirrels!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Horrors – a preview of my life to come. We’re moving to South Carolina next fall, and “the squirrels” was one of the first warnings we got from the previous owner. Exactly as described in your post, J.P. They seem to go for the vehicles before anything else. So it’s the garage for our cars all-day every-day, unless the mere presence of our dog in the yard does the trick (he’s not into chasing other animals). In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog for remedies (lethal and otherwise). When the bill is $350 or more I’m not into peace treaties like bowls of peanuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think if I were moving from Colorado to SC, I would worry more about the humidity than the squirrels, but then again, humidity rarely costs you money other than via air conditioning.

      It is true that modern vehicle wiring is made with insulation that critters find tasty. It was supposed to be more recyclable or something. Which tends to prove my theory that nobody ever solves a large-scale problem, they just transfer the problem elsewhere in other forms.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That was an enjoyable read JP – the blog and the comments! I’m sure you have a spy novel in you sometime. I feel lucky to park in a garage, but even that has it’s dangers, as my garage is home to spiders, which climbed up the air conditioning water hose and clogged it, resulting in the water residing inside the car and ruining the carpet instead of being discharged, which resulted in a $1000 plus bill from the Honda dealer, which after much arguing they agreed to pay half, as shouldn’t there be some kind of a light on the dash to tell you the AC hose unit is clogged. I guess this happens with barbecues too, but it was news to me, although I did hear some sloshing in the car when I turned the corners, which I ignored for a few weeks. Fellow blogger Linda has advised me to never start to feed the squirrels in my yard as there’s no end to it, and it just attracts more, so I don’t and now they hang out in the neighbour’s yards.

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