Squirrels - the good, the bad and the ugly

I know this isn't strictly a garden issue, but they do dance around the trees, so...
Here's the good... We have really enjoyed watching the squirrels chase each other around the garden, up and down the trees, across the wires and generally provide much entertainment for me, hubby and my 4yo son.
Here's the bad... A few mornings ago, we were woken at stupid o'clock (i.e. middle of the night) by the sound of shinnanigans in the attic, right above our heads in the bedroom. I commented that there must be animals in the attic, it went quiet and we went back to sleep. Well, this has happened every night/morning since and we've been getting a bit tired of being woken up.
We figured it must be squirrels as there are so many of them around here. And now here's the ugly... hubby came home from work yesterday with critter poison. Being the soppy mush that I am, I got a bit upset at the thought of poisoning the squirrels :-( But, needs must.
He investigated first and saw no signs of anything and distributed the poison as necessary. I did some searching around the net and gather that squirrels are a pest and saw much info on the methods of getting rid of them. The one that got my attention was mixing the poison with peanut butter. Seems so cruel, but I guess that's life out here in the Texas country. I guess it's no more cruel that pouring kettles of boiling water on the fire ants... don't tell PETA, they would have a field day!
Here's hoping for a quiet Christmas day morning... -- Lynda
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On Wed, 24 Dec 2003 15:31:33 GMT, Lynda LeCompte

Hope those suckers do not crawl into a hole in your house to die. Forget PETA, the smell will cure you of the poison thing. I used to live trap and relocate but now that a family of redtails has taken up residence I consider them to just be a crop of hawk food.
John
By the way, PETA is bunch of loonies who only pick on women and children.
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go to lowes or home depot a trap will cost like 20 or 30 bucks drive them like 2 or 5 miles away

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:go to lowes or home depot :a trap will cost like 20 or 30 bucks :drive them like 2 or 5 miles away :     ...and dump them where they will bother someone else.
This is kind to the squirrel and unkind to people (unless you actually live 2 or 5 miles from uninhabited land.)
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On Wed, 24 Dec 2003 14:05:05 -0500, Wendy Chatley Green

gray squirrels and don't bury their gathered nuts. Gray squirrels are responsible for the forestation of our planet where they reside. Red squirrels don't bury their booty. They just horde it in trees. And they're driving out the gray squirrel because they're more aggressive than the gray. And to be effective, you need to drive them TEN or FIFTEEN miles away.......2-5 is a short jaunt for them...........

better to dump them where they will "bother someone else" than cause irrepairable damage to the wiring in the attic to the house or phone lines or whatever. And if you do it correctly, release them in a wilder place so that Nature will be a better reality for them.

I agree, I'd release them in a wilder spot rather than just a few miles away.
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You will be even more upset if it dies in a corner of the attic or down behind some wall. The smell will overwhelm you, and force you to tear things apart to find the rotting carcass. There is no guarantee they will die outside or where you can reach the body. Poisoning them is a very risky way to go.
Much better to trap them and let them go a few miles away. Or, better yet, just seal up where they're coming in. Then you can enjoy them without the bother.
JWB
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Here's my rat poison story. I saw two mice indoors, which refused to enter the traps, no matter the bait, so I put out Warfarin bars which were gobbled down two nights in a row. Considering the huge amount they ate, I knew they were done for. Now to find them. I looked everywhere for a couple days without luck and assumed I got lucky and they went outside to die.
A couple weeks later, I put on a jacket I had not worn in a while, and stuck my hand in the pocket and felt something fuzzy and instantly knew what had happened. I took the jacket outdoors and dumped the dead mouse. As I was walking back I had this nagging thought to check the other pocket. Sure enough, the other mouse was there as well.
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heh heh... that's funny. I had one die behind a wall. Actually, it was less of a wall, and more like paneling nailed to studs in the laundry room. Made it easy to remove. But the smell... wow, was it bad. I never poisoned again.
Peanut butter seems to be the bait of choice for traps.
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mine wont touch PB, they want bird seed. At night I get to watch the mice doing these incredible acrobatics while they try to launch themselves toward the bird cage which is up on the wall. Well at least I am keeping total numbers down this year. Ingrid

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snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com expounded:

My husband has birdseed stored in one of the bedrooms up in Maine. He's got a ring of baited traps around the bags, and every time we go up there there are two or three dead mice we need to get rid of. No smell, though, because the house is unheated, so the little things are frozen stiff :->
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Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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Smart husband, Ann. I learned to put out bait after the mice wiped out rye seed for green manure that I stored under the house. Frozen, dead mice are far superior to rye seed that has been totally eaten.
John
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says... :) We figured it must be squirrels as there are so many of them around here. :) And now here's the ugly... hubby came home from work yesterday with critter :) poison. Being the soppy mush that I am, I got a bit upset at the thought of :) poisoning the squirrels :-( But, needs must. :) :) :) A general rule of thumb is if you are hearing the noises at night it usually is rats, which are as common or more common than the squirrels you see around. If the noise is more daylight time, probably squirrels. But there can be exceptions to those rules. Squirrels chew open their entrances where rats will tend to squeeze down so squirrel holes many times, are easy to find. Squirrels have different tastes than rats and usually won't feed on the rat bait, though sometimes they do. Mixing rat bait with peanut butter will improve the chance of getting squirrels to feed. Squirrels usually will not feed inside a bait protector which is needed to protect the bait that is used in outside situations, so now birds, dogs, cats and many other non target animals are at risk, attracted to the peanut butter, if the bait is scattered about the yard. Try the live trap route, you will probably catch many squirrels to get the few that may be getting into you attic. If you use the bait, only use it in the attic. After a couple of weeks fix the area where they are getting inside.
--

Lar. (to e-mail, get rid of the BUGS!!



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<< I know this isn't strictly a garden issue, but they do dance around the trees, so... >><BR><BR>
I don't mind squirrels but then I don't have to share the house with them. Last morning, c. 3 PM I was descending the stairs barefoot holding a tiny flashlight when I saw a Norway rat ascending the stairs, same way. The rest of the night I kept most of the lights on upstairs, since rats dislike light. Then I googled for destruction methods and went out for poison. Only problem here is if the critter goes and dies in an inaccessable spot. zemedelec
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On 24 Dec 2003 19:30:47 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comspamfree (Zemedelec) wrote:

rats.........nasty, disease spreading vermin....... A trap would get them too............rats are VERY smart and learn after one exposure. I'd say trap them with something tasty like dogfood smeared in peanut butter in a bowl yumm yummm. Once they get caught, I'd even say drown the bastages..............or find some lab that needs subjects <g>
madgardener who has to deal with WOODS rats sometimes that the cat's bring in, but nothing like the Norway rats and the great nasty white ones we sometimes had in Nashville near dumpsters and older, rougher neighborhoods.
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On Wed, 24 Dec 2003 15:31:33 GMT, Lynda LeCompte

honey, don't worry about PETA, my friend's house BURNT to the ground from wires that were chewed up in the attic by squirrels....................the wires shorted out and ignited the wood in the attic over a little time. By the way, they chewed the 220 wires that powered her dryer.............. madgardener
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Ok, first of all -- you need to figure out where these buggers are gaining entry. Trap, poison, exorcise, whatever -- until you figure out their point of entry they will continue to be an ongoing problem.
Secondly, you need to identify just what your problem IS rather than making an assumption. Is it squirrels or perhaps rats or maybe even bats, cats, birds, racoons, mice or who knows what? You should be able to make this determination by first an inspection and then a trap, as well as once you've found the entry point. If the activity in the attic is consistently occurring, you can also try to videotape it and see what you get.
Once you know what you're dealing with and how they're getting in, THEN you can actually deal with the problem. Plug their entry point then set out some traps, see if you catch anything. If you have rats then pick up the snap traps (good ole Victor Pest) and coat them with peanut butter -- set them all about the attic, especially along the walls. You can use poison as well but at least with snap traps they won't be going off in a corner to die.
Another item -- if you have rats, then the live catch and release bit is for the naive. It flat don't work. By now they've bred and had at least 1 full litter which has probably matured and started breeding as well (assuming the time of the year and weather is similar there as it is here). One year we had a rat problem and did not realize it until they had set up a happy, happy home -- when all was said and done, I stopped counting the dead at 72.
If it really is squirrels, then blocking their way in will resolve the issue fairly quickly. Same goes for bats or other nocturnal types -- just be sure to do the blocking when they're gone.
Good luck.
James
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Now then... having read all of the responses, I realise that we probably didn't give this much thought before we tackled it. I guess that's the culmination of being tired and aggravated through lack of sleep thanks to the critters :-/
The good news is that we didn't hear anything this morning. Doesn't necessarily mean that our unwelcome visitors are dead though. Hubby will go and investigate and make sure there are no dead bodies around, although he explained that the poison makes them thirsty and that they would usually go and find water before they actually died. Unfortunately, the attic tapers off into an unaccessable area and bottom dollar says that's where the critters will curl up and die if anywhere.
There are no obvious entry points that we can find, and we are considering the fact that it could well be rats and not squirrels up there.
All of the wise words are appreciated. Y'all make a lot of sense and we shall be better prepared for the next onslaught... as I'm sure there will be one!
And, um... I shall be putting my hands in my pockets very cautiously ;-) -- Lynda
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says... :) although he :) explained that the poison makes them thirsty and that they would usually go :) and find water before they actually died. Unfortunately, the attic tapers :) off into an unaccessable area and bottom dollar says that's where the :) critters will curl up and die if anywhere. :) :) :) Actually the go find water is an old "exterminators tale". Chances are he got an anti-coagulant. It will take 3-5 days for them to die after getting a lethal dose and another couple of days for an odor to show if it didn't make it outside. For what it's worth, I have close to 200 customers that have bait around their home year round and will get odor calls maybe 10-12 times throughout the year.
--


Lar. (to e-mail, get rid of the BUGS!!



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Yikes, better hope they don't eat the poison and then die somewhere in a wall - stinko!!!
Best to trap them and CLOSE THE HOLE they are crawling IN thru - has to be a way to find it.
Good luck.

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Lynda: my sympathy for your sleepless nights! Another possibility is your critters might be flying squirrels. They are nocturnal, so that's why they aren't seen, but are much heard, rampaging around the attic at night. We had them in our summer home. Finally found where they were coming in and attached a one-way door so they could get out, but not in .Made sure to block all holes but one. Used hardware cloth cone surrounding the opening, with a long sleeve of wire screening at the end of the cone so they couldn't crawl back in. After about a week, when the noise stopped (it often sounded like they were bowling walnuts around the floor), we closed up the opening and that was that. This was in the summer of course, so they could seek out other digs at their own pace. If you live in cold country, it would be rather tough on them to be evicted now....Our neighbor had this problem, in midwinter, and when my husband, the wildllife biologist, told her they would surely suffer if evicted, she live-trapped them and contemplated caging them tilll spring. Three days later, she called to say "Thanks a lot: one just gave birth to a bunch of babies!" So she built a giant cage under the stairs by her livingroom for them,was entertained for the rest of the winter by their antics , and let them go in the spring (after plugging up every hole in the house exterior that she could find.) The cone thing works for bats too (we had them also). I might also note that deporting wildlife to other areas is illegal in most states (it spreads diseases and pests like rabies), their chances of survival out of their own territory are minimal, and the most humane thing one can do with these unwanted pests is to kill them immediately. And as the biologist Paul Erlich said, "There is no 'away''! It sounds cruel to us humans, but nature is not kind, for sure; if they can destroy your home, you could feel justified in defending it. Just my view, you may not agree. Good luck with your problem, and Think Spring! (it's minus 3 degrees right now, and worse to come here in western Mass. Fingers are cold, so that's why the terrible typing.!) Wendy, Master gardener and quilter
Lynda LeCompte wrote:

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