Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Squirrel Wars Part III: Invasion and Allies

If you haven't read Parts I and II, you may want to start there before reading this post.  You can find it here: Squirrel Wars or at the top of this page (tab).

Let me tell you, there is no revenge like a squirrel scorned. Dumbo may not have been very bright, but his cousins were geniuses, or so they thought. Maybe because they were angry, maybe because they had finally learned to fear me, or maybe because it was mating season and they needed a little privacy, they FINALLY moved off of the porch.  But, as in any move, you gotta pack your things and take them with you, right?  So, they took my doormat.  Not the whole thing, not all at once.  Just a little a time, as if I wouldn't notice.  Chew, chew, chew until pieces of my nice doormat were somewhere in the trees padding nests. 3 points squirrels.

At this point-I hated them.  At this point-I aimed, I swerved, I chased.  And I enjoyed it WAY too much. My daughters began to berate me.  I reminded them who's boss.  I also advised them to never drive the way I do when I'm after a squirrel. Some time after that, I got another one.  It was a perfect hit.  He ran, I swerved, he died.  I am ashamed to admit it now, but I was rather proud of myself.  But I was alone in the car, so I couldn't brag until I got home.  And brag I did. You'd think I'd won the lottery I was so excited. I posted it on facebook.  Some people "got it".  They understood.  Others sympathized with the squirrels and tried to make me feel better about hitting a squirrel.  Feel better?  Honey, I was on top of the world!  It don't get no better than this! Still, I didn't push the issue.  I wasn't convinced I hadn't done something illegal, so I let them think what they wanted.

Squirrel swerving became a pretty routine thing when I was driving, after awhile. The girls got used to it, I think.  Of course, their friends thought I was insane. I was only after squirrels.  I avoided and even swerved to miss anything else, from butterflies to snakes.  I would have loved to squash some snakes, but one of my daughters loves snakes.  Killing one brings way more trouble than it is worth.  I allow them to live.

With that in mind, one day as I was coming home from cleaning a house, I saw a rather large snake slithering down my street.  He was on the side of the road, heading in the same direction as me. Had he been crossing the road, I may have tried to hit him.  My daughter would never know. Still, I felt guilty for even considering it, so I passed him right on by.  He was less than half a block away from my house.  When I pulled into the driveway, I noticed my daughter was outside cutting grass.  I was very thankful I didn't kill the snake.  She may have seen me.  I knew better than tell her I had seen a large snake on the road.  She would have jumped off the mower and gone off to catch him.  She loves snakes just that much. (Don't know where she got that from.) I went into the house and went about my business.  My husband was home by now also.

A few minutes later, I heard both my husband and my daughter on the front porch talking rather loudly about something.  I didn't know what happened, but I knew something was up so I went out there to see what was going on. They were leaning over the porch railing looking down. She was very excited, pointing and pacing on the porch.  I finally figured out that as she was cutting grass, she saw a snake crawl into the drain-spout   They were looking at the gutter from top to bottom trying to see where it went.  She was just about ready to get down from the porch to the ground level to search when all of a sudden the most horrific sound began to occur.  It sounded like a train.  REALLY.  I thought maybe a very large truck or industrial vehicle was coming down the street.  We looked at each other.  We looked at the street.  We asked, "What IS that noise?"  Then, we realized.....the noise was coming from the gutter.  BBBRRRRROOOOOMMMM.  LOUD and LONG, at least 10-15 seconds.  We looked up and at the corner of the porch ceiling, where the gutter meets the porch eave, there was about a 5 inch gap.  Travelling through the gutter and visible in that gap, was a VERY, LARGE SNAKE! It just kept going, and going, and going.  I was convinced it was 15 feet long.  I freaked.  I turned around and ran back into the house.  They stayed on the porch.  They figured they were safe, he wasn't on the porch, he was headed back down. My daughter hoped to catch it, so the next thing I knew, she was on the ground at the drain-spout.

By this time, I had reached the safety of the smaller, side porch.  I could see everything, but I was out of snake range. I watched as my husband inspected the gutter and my daughter inspected the drain-spout.   Hubby was ready to kill, daughter was ready to catch.  She had somehow managed to grab a bag or something and was trying to figure out how to attach it to the drain-spout so the snake would crawl into it.  Her plan was to release it somewhere else. Hubby was trying to talk her out of it.  While their eyes were fixed on the ground, I looked up at the 5 inch gap.  "OH. MY. LORD!!!  THERE IS ANOTHER ONE!"  Another snake, just a little smaller, was literally sticking its head out looking around.  About 6-7 inches of snake head and body was hovering over them.  YIKES! That's it. I'm done....party is over, everyone INSIDE. NOW!

We came in and marveled at the thought of snakes in the gutter.  Then we realized that the "gap" was more than a gap.  It was a hole....in the eaves.  Going up to the attic, in the dormers. Where we found a very large snake skin.  Meet the new neighbors.  UGH! Totally freaked out, we called the landlord.  The snakes could not get into the house, only into the attic, so he was not concerned.  In fact, he suggested a shotgun. We weren't going to get any help there, so the plan was to hope they just went away.  Hubby was not fond of the thought of snake trapping. Later that evening, it dawned on me that my act of mercy towards that snake was a mistake.  I had passed up a chance to kill the new neighbor.  Yep....it was him. Oh, by the way, the snake skin we found was over 5 foot long, with a piece missing.

So what do snakes in the attic have to do with squirrels?  Well, why do you think they moved in?  Apparently, when the squirrels moved off of the porch, the trees were not their only new abode.  They, too had found the attic.  How do I know? Because one managed to fall into the wall.

My youngest daughter's bedroom was connected to the dormers where the snake skins were found.  It was also in her wall that she began to hear scratching one night.  It went on for a long time.  She told us, and we figured it was an animal.  Maybe a snake?  Nah, must have been a squirrel.  They were trying to get in. Varmints!  We weren't sure what to do.  Our solution, we told her to sleep in the spare room.  A few days later, an awful smell began.  Dead squirrel no doubt. Stay in the spare room.  After awhile, the smell subsided, she moved back in and she put a couple of blankets under the door leading to the  attic.  If the snakes came back, she didn't want them to come in.  I'm not sure I could have slept there.  She got used to it.

Another dead squirrel, but I don't think I should get that point.  Maybe the snakes get that one. At any rate, we continued to find snake skins.  Squirrels stopped going into the attic. Or maybe they did but didn't get past the snake patrol.  Either way, I had a couple of unlikely allies living under my roof.

So where are we, 4-2 with the squirrels in the lead?  Actually, it is now tied, 4-4, but that will have to wait until I post Part IV: Retaliation and Repentance.

I wanted to post a picture of my daughter holding the snake skin, but I cannot find it anywhere.  What I do have is a sound clip from a little "adventure" the day after we saw the snakes in the gutter. On that day, I saw one of the snakes in the road next to our driveway.  In an irrational moment, I lost my senses and went after it.  Again and again.  And Again.  Forward...VROOM. Reverse...VROOM. Missed it, twice. Forward...VROOM. Reverse...VROOM.  I was getting dangerously close to the fence, but I couldn't stop myself.  I was determined to kill that snake before he got into my yard and back into my attic.  Somehow, in the midst of the screaming and chaos, my daughter thought to record part of the insanity with her phone.  Yeah, I know.  I'm nuts.  (And the snake got away) Here's a visual aid to go along with the sound:




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