What cute little things they are. The scamper around in your yard and seem to be having the time of their lives. In reality, what they are doing is chewing your house apart, trying to get into the attic -- especially when winter begins to come around.

I spent years at peace with the squirrels, but one day I was in the back yard and looked up at the eaves under the attic. There were holes in at least three places. Those eaves are too damn high for me to climb up there; I have a thing about heights. (I'll tell that story in another node some day.) But, for now, suffice it to say that I had to hire people to come out here and fix all the damage that the squirrels had done. It cost me several hundred dollars, and the folks told me there was really nothing that could be done to make sure it wouldn't happen again.

"Really? I think you are wrong, my tool belt buddy!"

I went down to WalMart and bought a pellet gun for under $40. I live in the city, so I couldn't use a rifle. However, my back yard is woodsy enough so that the neighbors cannot see anything that goes on here. And what is going on is genocide.

You'd be surprised how accurate these pellet guns are now. I can kill one of the rodents at a distance of up to 50 feet, or at least knock it down so that my dog can go finish the job. When they are lying on the ground, dead, you'd be surprised how much they look like rats. That's all they are, you know: Rats with bushy tails.

I killed around 20 or so, and now they have gotten the message out to each other. "Don't go in that yard, man; that dude is a squirrelaphobe!" I haven't seen one in months. Pity. I was beginning to really enjoy it.

In forensics, a case designed to be unbeatable by virtue of its obscure interpretation of the resolution, as the negative team will have no evidence to refute it.

To the average observer, the common squirrel might seem a little, well, common. Not so, say the inhabitants of Lazo, Russia. In this small rural village, a pine cone shortage drove the area’s indigenous black squirrels to desperate measures. As a stray dog passed by, a group of squirrels led an ambush, and, in under a minute, “literally gutted” the dog, as one area resident described the incident. Not too bad for a garden-variety rodent.

The word “squirrel” means literally “tail that casts a shadow,” and may refer to any member of the family Sciuridae. In common parlance, however, squirrels are usually members of the genera Sciururus and Tamiasciurus. While chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs fall within the term’s scientific scope, rarely do we recognize the close relationship between these animals and the friendly, loving creatures that forage our oak trees looking for nuts.

In urban areas, the North American (or eastern) gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) reigns supreme. Despite the name, the gray squirrel actually encompasses subspecies of many different colors, including the aforementioned black squirrel, whose darker skin allows for better heat absorption in frigid climates. The black squirrel is the unofficial mascot of Kent State University, which boasts a burgeoning population of black squirrels, all descendants of ten progenitors imported from Canada.

Also popular is the albino (or white) squirrel, a rare but fascinating subspecies produced by genetic mutation. Albinism in squirrels occurs at a rate of one per 100,000 births, approximately half the human conjoined twin birth rate. The odds of finding an albino squirrel in the wild are even lower, because the albino squirrel’s inferior camouflaging abilities makes it an easy target for predators. Where albino squirrels reside, however, they quickly gain fame. The BBC maintains an online collection of albino squirrel photographs, and numerous college campuses feature chapters of the Albino Squirrel Preservation Association.

However, not everyone is happy with the pervasiveness of these clever critters. In the United Kingdom, government officials recently announced their intention to begin controlling the gray squirrel population. Gray squirrels can carry the dreaded Squirrelpox, a disease lethal to the UK’s native red squirrels, and compete with red squirrels and dormice for natural resources.

Squirrels rock my socks right now,” says one senior at my high school. With proper protection of our cities’ parks and woodland resources, squirrels can continue rocking the socks of generations to come.

My house and garden back into a strip of Florida forest, home to red-tailed hawks, armadillos and opossums, the occasional raccoon, snakes, one great horned owl, and countless gray squirrels. With live oaks in front of the house and pine trees shading the back patio there is always a squirrel in sight, feeding on acorns or pine nuts, or traveling from tree to tree in the overhead canopy. This being Florida, the squirrels do not hibernate in winter. If natural food gets a bit scarce, they can – and do – raid a bird feeder for corn and sunflower seeds.

We all lived together peacefully, even though I am not particularly fond of these members of the rat family. “Live and let live” is one of my mottoes. Then I started feeding the little beasts. This was definitely not a smart thing to do.

I did not do this with kindness as a motive. I simply wanted some entertainment for my dog, Bronco. Last summer I had the back patio enclosed with a board and post fence so he could enjoy life outdoors without being on a tie-out. At the same time everything was smartened up and a lanai built as a place to raise orchids and other tropical plants.

As Bronco seemed to be bored on the patio, I installed a squirrel feeder on a nearby tree trunk, thinking he would enjoy watching the squirrels scamper up and down for food. I laid in a supply of squirrel goodies: dried ears of corn, raw peanuts in the shell, and sunflower seeds. All of this went into a waterproof shop cabinet mounted on the back wall of the house.

The first thing the furry little monsters did was to chew through the door of the cabinet. They quickly took possession of the patio. Hanging flower baskets became burial grounds for nuts and seeds. Orchids and jade plants became squirrel snacks.

As young squirrels matured and set up independent housekeeping, they chose backyard trees for their nests. Squirrels line their nests with soft foliage. In this case they used the leaves of three recently-planted hibiscus bushes. Within two days the bushes were not only stripped of all foliage, the tender tip of every branch was snapped off.

“Enough is enough” is another of my mottoes. I bought a Havahart ® cage. For two months I busily trapped squirrels. Prime trapping time is early morning hours or just at sunset. This is when squirrels forage for food. Once trapped, a squirrel can be relocated.

In two months I caught over fifty squirrels. A relocated squirrel will find its way back to its territory unless it is released at a distance of at least five miles. I have repopulated most of my community, releasing squirrels in parks and other public areas, brushy wasteland, any place where there is a tree for the squirrel to run to once the cage door is opened.

Squirrels are fairly nonchalant about being captured. If they spend an hour or so in the cage they will usually finish eating whatever food has lured them into the trap. With the exception of the trap door, a solid piece of metal, the cage is made of one-inch square wire mesh. If a squirrel is in the cage longer than an hour it will occupy itself by reaching through the mesh and uprooting all the grass on which the cage rests. To avoid bare patches in the lawn, it is best to remove the cage quickly.

Yesterday I noticed four squirrels chasing each other up and down a linden tree in front of the house. Once more, it was time to trim the roster of residents. The trap was put out after dark. Squirrels are smart critters. Just to be on the safe side, it is best not to let them see the trap being baited.

This morning when I returned from taking Bronco for his walk the cage was still open. No matter, maybe there would be a catch later in the day. Leaving the house again at eight o'clock, I returned within the hour. As I came up the drive I could see that the solid door was at a slant, meaning the trap had been sprung.

Normally a squirrel will become agitated and start leaping around in the cage when someone approaches. If there is no movement it means that the cage is empty, usually because a squirrel has jumped on the outside of the cage and triggered the trap action.

Nothing was moving in the cage as I walked across the lawn. As I got closer I heard a shriek and looked up to see a red-tailed hawk sitting on a branch of the linden tree. It shrieked again as I shortened the distance between us but it stayed on the branch, which was unusual. Having a hawk so close to the house was unusual in itself.

Then I noticed that there was a squirrel in the cage. It had wedged itself into the triangular space between the slanting door and the floor of the cage, as if hiding. The squirrel was dead, without a mark on it.

Did the squirrel die of fright? Did the hawk land on top of the cage and try to get the squirrel? I’m not about to lose any sleep over it, but all day I’ve been wondering what it would be like to be in a cage and have a hawk sitting on the wire mesh just over my head.

Squir"rel ]

1. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of small rodents belonging to the genus Sciurus and several allied genera of the famly Sciuridae. Squirrels generally have a bushy tail, large erect ears, and strong hind legs. They are commonly arboreal in their habits, but many species live in burrows.

⇒ Among the common North American squirrels are the gray squirrel (Scirius Carolinensis) and its black variety; the fox, or cat, sqirrel (S. cinereus, or S. niger) which is a large species, and variable in color, the southern variety being frequently black, while the northern and western varieties are usually gray or rusty brown; the red squirrel (see Chickaree); the striped, or chipping, squirrel (see Chipmunk); and the California gray squirrel (S. fossor). Several other species inhabit Mexico and Central America. The common European species (Sciurus vulgaris) has a long tuft of hair on each ear. the so-called Australian squirrels are marsupials. See Petaurist, and Phalanger.


One of the small rollers of a carding machine which work with the large cylinder.

Barking squirrel Zool., the prairie dog. -- Federation squirrel Zool., the striped gopher. See Gopher, 2. -- Flying squirrel Zool.. See Flying squirrel, in the Vocabulary. -- Java squirrel Zool.. See Jelerang. -- Squirrel corn Bot., a North American herb (Dicantra Canadensis) bearing little yellow tubers. -- Squirrel cup Bot., the blossom of the Hepatica triloba, a low perennial herb with cup-shaped flowers varying from purplish blue to pink or even white. It is one of the earliest flowers of spring. -- Squirrel fish Zool. (a) A sea bass (Serranus fascicularis) of the Southern United States. (b) The sailor's choice (Diplodus rhomboides). (c) The redmouth, or grunt. (d) A market fish of Bermuda (Holocentrum Ascensione). -- Squirrel grass Bot., a pestiferous grass (Hordeum murinum) related to barley. In California the stiffly awned spiklets work into the wool of sheep, and into the throat, flesh, and eyes of animals, sometimes even producing death. -- Squirrel hake Zool., a common American hake (Phycis tenuis); -- called also white hake. -- Squirrel hawk Zool., any rough-legged hawk; especially, the California species Archibuteo ferrugineus. -- Squirrel monkey. Zool. (a) Any one of several species of small, soft-haired South American monkeys of the genus Calithrix. They are noted for their graceful form and agility. See Teetee. (b) A marmoset. -- Squirrel petaurus Zool., a flying phalanger of Australia. See Phalanger, Petaurist, and Flying phalanger under Flying. -- Squirrel shrew Zool., any one of several species of East Indian and Asiatic insectivores of the genus Tupaia. They are allied to the shrews, but have a bushy tail, like that of a squirrel. -- Squirrel-tail grass Bot., a grass (Hordeum jubatum) found in salt marshes and along the Great Lakes, having a dense spike beset with long awns.


© Webster 1913.

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