Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Squirrel Out of the Attic (Again?!) :: Using Catch and Release Animal Traps
This here’s a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue, two young squirrels with nothin’ better to do. Except unleash their squirrelly wrath on me. That is – for the better part of a week, two winters ago…
Outlaw couple Billy Joe (top) and Bobbie Sue (bottom), shortly after their capture.
Squirrels in the Attic
Yes, these two bushy-tailed reprobates managed to get into my home in early January, 2009, gnawing their way through a small, dry-rotted section of my outside cellar door. I initially became aware of their presence when I first heard Bobbie Sue, the louder, more tempestuous of the two, crawling around and whimpering inside the first floor wet wall, as she made her way up through the framing. So I had a squirrel on my hands. But didn’t realize I had two until the next day, when I encountered both of them in the attic.
Fortunately for me, their access to my home was relatively limited. They had the run of the basement, of course (in which they made a real mess), the innards of the wet wall which they used as a pathway to the attic, the 2nd floor birthing room (which was empty at the time, with the door kept closed to stop drafts — good thing for that), and then, of course, the attic. They have a natural instinct to climb to the highest possible elevations, and this must have prompted them to head up there.
Bobbie Sue escaping her Havahart trap and making for the small sapling (top); Billy Joe high in the canopy after his release (bottom). If you zoom closer on the photo, you can plainly see that Billy Joe is making an obscene paw gesture at me.
Catch and Release Animal Traps
Catching them was a royal pain. I swear, they knew what I was up to, and tried to mess with my head. I set a total of three Havahart live, aka catch and release animal traps for them; two in the attic, and one in the basement, just in case either attempted to venture back outside the house via the basement. On one occasion, the bait (peanut butter) was removed from one trap without springing it. On another occasion, a trap was sprung, but with no animal inside (in retrospect, this was probably the act of a mouse). And then, the traps were totally ignored for several days. But eventually, either hunger prevailed, or they just got careless, and I caught both of them in the attic.
Fearing that they knew the house all too well at this point, and might find some other way back in (even though I had already blocked their original entry point), I decided to take them to nearby Osborndale State Park to release them to the wild. I released Billy Joe first. He immediately made for the nearest tree, and quickly ascended to the upper-most portion of the canopy.
But Bobbie Sue’s path to freedom was a bit more haphazard, perhaps somewhat in keeping with her tempestuous nature. She darted toward a small sapling right near her trap and climbed quickly, only to find herself hanging perilously from a very small limb, with no where else to go. She either deliberately let go, or lost her grip, and fell about seven or eight feet down onto the soft snow, totally unscathed, and then ran to the same tree Billy Joe had ascended previously, where she began her fast ascent. After a while, she was completely out of sight, lost in the canopy of the trees.
Bobbie Sue out on a limb with no place to go (top); after plummeting to earth, Bobbie Sue ascends the same tree taken by Billy Joe (bottom).
More on the Story
Now, aside from this being a (somewhat) entertaining story, where’s the key element of “building moxie” in it? Well, funny as the story reads, it wasn’t very funny at the time. Anyone who has ever had a squirrel (or two) in their home can tell you how destructive they are, how imperative it is to get them out quickly, and how their prolonged presence (that is, any thing longer than about one afternoon) can rattle you psychologically.
For me, a humane option, however, was the only option. I knew about the Havahart Animal Traps, searched quickly online, and found I could get them at my local Home Depot (Medium 2-door). One of the sales folks there advised peanut butter as the bait. And it all worked out in the end. Albeit with a sense of quiet desperation on my part. But I took charge of the situation, and brought it to an end as quickly as I could. No one got hurt (including me). Such is the way of Building Moxie!
For further reading, here’s a link a very recent This Old House article on dealing with a variety of winter-time critters. Here is the original blog posting. Cheers John.
For more from contributor, John D. Poole, please see his page, here. ~jb
11 thoughts on “Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Squirrel Out of the Attic (Again?!) :: Using Catch and Release Animal Traps”
You forgot to mention, though, that your friends have come to feed on your squash and further antagonize you in the summer months, causing many doctor bills for therapy and much fun for Lintow and I :)
Amy, what you fail to mention is that you and Sean are clearly behind my summertime squirrel invasions. Admit it: You two have a well-trained squirrel army doing your bidding. But some day, the tables will turn. Bwa-hahahaha! :-)
Thanks for all the clever little jokes throughout this post (what is it about squirrel posts these days!) I used to have a billion squirrels living in my yard but they never did venture in the house.
I have learned though that the secret bait recipe for your trap is peanut butter smeared on a chunk of corn on the cob. It’s too big to get without setting the trap.
For what it’s worth…
Thanks Bob! Now that you mention the corn cob, I recall the Home Depot folks telling me the same thing. But at the time I thought, “Where the blazes am I going to find a corn cob in the middle of January?” So I ended up getting extra chunky peanut butter instead, and really spread it on the paddle thing in the traps to assure good adhesion. Clearly, I missed the first few times with this, but finally caught the quarry in the end!
I am most amused by the thought of you in quiet desperation. One time I felt sorry for the squirrel trapped in my veggie garden (same trap; same bait), but even sorrier for myself as I was tired and didn’t want to drive up the mountain road to release said squirrel (this was about the 6th squirrel capture at the time). So I just sort of let it out. Then I took a lot of ribbing for later complaining that it came back! Does that count at loud desperation?
Hmmmm…Yes, I would think that your complaining about the squirrel’s return would definitely count as loud desperation. In fact, that might’ve even been what the squirrel wanted! Better to remain silent when those bushy-tailed marauders are around, and not let on what you’re thinking. They hear all too well…and they’re smart! :-)
While you made a comical adventure from your crazy squirrels, I know it’s not funny at all. our squirrels spent at least a month or two in our attic, one died in there, which is how we figured it out, the smell. It was off of an unused bedroom w/ two closets of old clothes, which we then dubbed the “dead squirrel room”. Goodwill got 13 bags of clothes, cleaned for a year before the smell went away, replaced attic insulation and roof. Pricey little varmits. must try Bob’s corn cob w/ PB next time, sounds much less messy. moral to the story – set those old clothes free, they will be new to someone else. Thanks for documenting your adventure! ours is finally funny now too! rather doubt the dead squirrel thinks so. a sorry grave. cindy @urbanverse
Good point Cindy, about the need to not have stuff lying around. I’ve had similar situations where well-intentioned collections of old clothes in paper bags suddenly became homes for mice and regretted it later! Sorry about the squirrel dying on you…that doesn’t sound like a very pleasant ending to your story!
I am most intrigued by the bio above: I would like to read a post all about John’s Second Life and spare time. That would also be an amusing story. And does “a little gardening” mean “he throws some dirt around every so often to confuse the squirrels”? So John, how DOES your garden grow?
Ah, my “second life” is something that you’ll just have to read a large number of my blog postings to finally get a good picture of. And as Amy points out, my garden hardly grows at all these days, thanks to frequent squirrelly incursions!