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Rats with Bushy Tails

I know most folks think squirrels are cute and adorable. Not me, I consider them to be no more than rats with bushy tales. Not only are they pesky, they’ve had trouble adjusting to city life. It seems they like to play with moving vehicles, giving them the dubious distinction of being one of the top urban road kills.

While squirrels aren’t too smart when crossing the street, they are highly determined and seem to have incredible memories. Several years ago I restored a house that had been abandoned for 15 years and become the residence of various rodents, including squirrels. As I sealed off their entry points into the house they began to circle me like a pack of drooling, rabid wolves. It became immediately obvious that making them homeless had sent them into an uncontrollable rage.

I ran into the house and donned my rodent armor, a full hockey goalie outfit, a tennis racket, and trash can lid for a shield. I then bravely went back outside to do battle totally convinced I could beat them back. All they did was point at me, laugh and take off for the woods. I wasn’t fooled, I knew their plan was to lay low and wait until I was more vulnerable.

I was right. I became complacent, and figured they had left for good, but nooooo. The moment we finished laying a brand new, expensive, cedar shingled roof they attacked. Within two days they had eaten a huge hole in an entire corner of the roof. Once the vermin gained access they built squatter camps and began delivering their offspring.

It was clear to me war had broken out. Being the compassionate guy I am, I decided to try and trap them alive. I would then banish them to a rodent penal colony far away and let some other poor slobs deal with the problem. There was one issue however, the baby vermin. I decided my live trapping plan would have to wait until the babies were mature enough to trap with their unrepentant parents.

By the time I was able to proceed with my plan, the squirrel’s relatives had all moved in. It was a bigger job than I had anticipated. I finally live-trapped them all, moved them far away, patched the roof and never had the problem again.

You can rent live traps at most any full service rental center for $15 to $30 per week. A good live trap will be ultra sensitive and spring shut with the slightest touch. Peanut butter worked well for me but you could try about anything you think a squirrel might eat.

Be sure not to leave them in the trap for any length of time. They can hurt themselves or even kill themselves trying to escape. The Missouri Department of Conservation prefers any live trapped critters be euthanized (killed) and rather than released. Well, I guess they’ll have to arrest me because I just can’t bring myself to do it.

The pros will give them the needle, which takes them out of their misery quickly and in most situations you’re better off hiring them in the first place. The theory is that they could have rabies etc. and so, should not be let go. Professionals will charge between $100 and $500 per rodent depending on the size and specie. The key to keeping them out is to seal off their entry points.

If you are going to become a fugitive and release them, I suggest you take them as far away as possible. In my state, Missouri, the law requires a minimum of five miles. Considering how keen their memories seem to be, I wouldn’t take any chances. It’s a safer bet to let them go in another country, if you can get them over the border.

If you live in a rural area you certainly have the option of execution by firearm. I personally don’t see the point unless you are going to eat the rodents. Some folks swear they taste just like chicken.