Friday, 22 June 2018

Going Squirrelly

This morning, on the second day of summer, Pips and I wandered out to the back yard, where I sat with my coffee and supervised her roamings. There was a robin with a beak full of worms that stopped by, high up in the old elm to peep and chirp at us before flying off to stuff those worms down the gullets of hungry chicks. A tiny little bird, whose identity is unknown to me, flitted through the trees, peering down at us from around branches. Pips watched with interest but made no move to hunt.

Then came the squirrel. I have seen it many times in the trees in my yard. It is a small red squirrel and not very noisy. I have found when grey squirrels are about, they raise a cacophony of chitter chatter that gets irritating pretty damn quick. This little one occasionally cheeps but usually just shows its annoyance with a frantic tail bouncing rear end dance along the tree branches.

As we watched squirrel's antics, I could see it was inching its way lower along the tree trunk. So could Pips. She was being very patient, sitting very still in front of my feet.

Then suddenly, the squirrel took off down the tree to the ground and zipped behind the shed. The base of this tree touches the shed, so it was a pretty easy get away, but both Pips and I burst into action in time to see it disappear under the far side of the shed. There is a wooden base under this metal shed and I have noticed it is getting a bit worse for wear but I had no idea squirrels were living under it. For all I know, there are rabbits as well, although I have not seen any evidence of rabbits in the yard for several years. There are mice, though, of that I am sure.

There are white footed deer mice living under the shed, and I have a poison bait station inside the shed. They can transmit hanta virus through their droppings and urine, which can aerosolize once dried. I sure don't need to be breathing *that* shit in, thanks but no thanks. (Infection with hanta virus can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal, and is a reportable disease. I knew someone a few years ago whose son died of this after working on the plumbing under a cabin without the proper respiratory protection. It was a long slow demise, terrible to watch as he withered away, struggling to breath. He was 25.)

I know for a fact that three mice have already succumbed as I have found their little carcasses, which have been disposed of so nothing else will eat them (read: Pips) and die. The poison is warfarin (ie: rat poison), which is an anticoagulant (thins the blood) and they die from massive internal hemorrhage. Sorry for the gruesome imagery but I don't want that to happen to my cat by accidental ingestion. When I have the shed open, she is not allowed outside the house. That pisses her off to no end!!

I have not seen evidence of the squirrel inside the shed, which is good, because the lawn mower and all my yard maintenance equipment is in there, plus my bike. So far, nothing obviously chewed. If that becomes evident, trapping and relocation is going to happen fast! There is a large park with a heavily forested area nearby, which would be the transplant location. Here is the little furry one in action.