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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Squirrel trials update # 4

Since the last update I extended the roof to 6 inches. I thought the wonder-rodent couldn't do the yogic stretch to reach the hole. When squirrel encountered the modification it looked over the edge, and didn't even try. It snaked around the corner from the side of the roof where the overhang is only 2.5".

Fair enough. I decided to add 5" vertical barriers to the sides.

This seemed to make it even easier. Now the squirrel could oppose the grip of its hindlegs at 90 degrees, and in one swell foop it did the yogic stretch to reach the hole.

Exiting the box is also a cinch. Though the redwood is smooth, the joints on the corners and sides offer the squirrel more than adequate purchase.

It was time to raise the bar, as they say, which in this case meant enlisting Richard's help again. We covered the box with galvanized metal flashing.

You are looking up at the one area that isn't flashed -- the underside of the overhanging roof.

By 11:00 the next morning the remote alarm inside the box had not sounded, and I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I had circumvented wonder-rodent.

"Guess, who hasn't gotten into the box today?" I asked the redhead rather smugly. (Her response, "Who?" was a polite admission that she wasn't really listening, a common pattern in the conversation of old couples and Seinfeld characters.)

Ten minutes later the alarm blasted in its irritating way.

A couple hours later I was gazing out the window and finishing a cup of coffee in quiet postprandial reflection, when the squirrel made a second appearance.

It climbed all around the box on the bark of the tree, mounted the roof, and looked over the edge at the hole. Then it rapidly scratched the metal roof as if trying to dig through. After a thoughtful pause, it went back to edge, leaned over the side, and crawled upside down on the exposed woodwork and entered the hole. It was just like a gecko.

This charged me with determination to do it one better. When the squirrel finished its repast 20 minutes later, I removed the roof and took it to the garage. Fifteen minutes later the undersurface of the roof was one smooth piece of plywood.

Stay tuned.


Mr. Smiley said...

.comWhat about a piece of plexiglas instead to the plywood which will soon warp?

You can probably obtain scrap pieces of plexiglas at big suppliers.

I like the ingenuity of squirrels. I'm sure they will figure out a winning strategy every time.

zhakee said...

I kind of like the shiny silver color, gives the house a futuristic look. Around my parts, squirrels climb up the sides of stucco houses, if the stucco is rough enough. So, are squirrels smart, in addition to having great dexterity and strength?

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if the metal flashing will make the box get too hot? Perhaps it's in a well-shaded area though.
Maggie, Hungry Owl Project

Peter said...

I'm loving the squirrel box episode. It's beginning to look as ugly as sin, but I really feel you are getting closer to a solution. I think on these matters we are both thinking simple and cheap is the way to go. On the sheet metal hanging down on the side of the top cover, how about if the metal rimming the top extended, for example, one-inch above the top as well as downward. Just maybe the critter wouldn't like the feel of hanging down being supported by it's feet on the knife edge of the metal. Just a thought as it seems entry is coming from the top

Camera Trap Codger said...

Good thoughts, everyone. I like the plexiglass idea, but will use sheet metal for the next step (Yes, I am expecting the little Houdinis to find a way in). Smarts? Yes, squirrels definitely have them (but I must check the literaure on this topic). As for your memories of Alec Guinness in the sheet metal hot box (Bridge on the River Kwai), not to worry, Maggie. I paint the boxes and hang them on the north side of shady trees. The raised edge might also be a deterrent, Pete. I may also try a cheap roll bar on the edge of the roof.

Owlman said...

Chris I'm loovin this squirrel saga and I know that with your persistence you will discover a way to thwart the little buggers.
I got my money on you man. I gave up trying to keep squirrels out of my "Squirrel proof" bird feeders.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Oh Lordy! What has I got myself into?

I was telling Richard the other day that we can put a man on the moon, but we not be able to outsmart a squirrel (without resorting to violence).

It is incumbent on us to find a kinder and gentler (Bwaahh hahahaha . . . .)