It’s a long and lonely drive across the Hudson River late at night when you’re in the business of catching squirrels, and when I say late at night, I mean really late, like almost eight-thirty p.m. or maybe even quarter to nine. I have to play Skrillex at a horrible decibel to keep myself awake for the twenty-five minute drive. And last night was eerie and foggy and almost balmy, and one almost always has disconcerting thoughts on these kinds of nights. Like I was thinking about all the people who have written to me telling me that squirrels are so much smarter than I am and that I should just give up. Are they really that smart? I mean, I have a master’s degree. Could they gang up on me in the attic, forming a kind of death squad in which each one just takes a bite, leaving my skeleton behind? That would be super smart, right?
I was thinking about that on the ride over, about how my skeleton on the attic floor would have to just lie there until at least 6:30 in the morning when Lynn would wake up and ask me why I wasn’t getting the babies, who by that point would likely both be wailing. Then she’d get up and run around the house looking for me, probably mad that she had to calm two babies all by herself while Ray listens to Monster Mash on itunes for the thousandth time.
I was thinking about this and other maudlin things when I got to the house with all my squirrel accouterments last night. Our tenants are college students, and one of them has a girlfriend, a she-child who spent far too long telling me how her family caught a badger in a Havahart trap, and the important thing to do is make the trap look like the animal’s natural habitat, blah blah, and she went on and on like that, her mouth moving but no sound coming out because all I was thinking was I really can’t talk to you, you were born in like 1994.
It’s always with a mixture of horror and anticipation when I climb those attic steps with my lantern, playing Beatrix Potter to my own private Squirrel Nutkin. Except that Beatrix Potter wanted to draw them whereas I would like to slaughter them.
No squirrels. One trap by the hole had snapped shut, so I reset it. One trap outside by the tree had also snapped, but it was muddy out there and the leaves were slimy. Plus outside the property it’s pretty dark, and the town is dark in general, which always gets me thinking about the walking dead. I wish I had never watched that last season.
I drove home in a dispirited state. I am aware that quite a few of you are writing in to tell me to hire a professional. I did make a few calls, and tomorrow a guy is going to come over to give me an estimate, but I just know it’s going to be thousands of dollars. And I ask you, why should I pay that much when the cost of a factory power level .177 FWB124 with a 4-12x scope only costs like two-hundred bucks? I could nurse the babies first thing in the morning and be carrying a basket of dead squirrels home by late afternoon.
I don’t really know if I could shoot a living thing, though, so in the meanwhile I did some more research and bought a steel trap that has these flanges on the outside which you bolt to the hole so that when the squirrels leave the house they can’t go back in. They get stuck in a cage sticking out perpendicular to the fascia. I’m going to ask our contractor to climb up there and affix it and then see what happens.
There are also the Conibear traps, which my critter man said he would lend me. It’s a medieval looking thing that really doesn’t give the squirrel a chance. I know because I watched a lot of them die on Youtube. I was shocked to see how much comes up on Youtube when you type ‘catching squirrels’ in the search engine. They all seem to be from the south, too, which feels vaguely alarming.
The guy that sold me the one-way-repeater told me that squirrels don’t see well in the dark attic and that’s why they aren’t going into the traps. When I suggested leaving a light on for them he said that wouldn’t work, but he wouldn’t tell me why, which I think is suspect. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of suspect activity when it comes to catching squirrels.
People clam up and don’t want to give you any information, like it’s the Manhattan Project or something.
Another lady told me that breeding season is coming soon, so I had better catch them fast. She said the females get really vicious and protective of their babies, and if you catch the mother and relocate her she will go crazy trying to find them and then the babies will die, probably in your walls.
I have to stop writing now, I think. I am whipping myself up into a froth. Thank you for reading.