I’ve been dealing with a problem that has plagued the world since the beginning of the Eocene Epoch, whenever that was. A problem so daunting the greatest minds of science like Stephen Hawking and Dr. Oz have yet to solve.
Sometimes I think I’m on the verge of a major breakthrough but then I suffer ignominious defeat and have to start over again. It’s the squirrel apocalypse. Man versus rodent. A big brain versus a little brain. You see, squirrels have been around a lot longer than us, so they have an advantage.
In recent years, they’ve invaded our home and torn up furniture. They’ve crawled down the chimney and got stuck, but worst of all, they raid and plunder the bird feeders with impunity. And when I yell at them, they glare at me with arrogant squirrel expressions while stuffing their tiny mouths with my over-priced birdseed.
My neighbors think I’m obsessed. Actually, my neighbors know I’m obsessed because I’m constantly guarding the feeders … waiting for that moment when six squirrels launch a lightning raid like the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive. I yell insanely, the dog barks, and my wife pounds on the window, all to no avail, so in a blaze of glory, I run outside in my pajamas and slippers, brandishing a broom and prepared to engage in hand-to-paw combat.
“The neighbors are going to call Animal Control to come and get … you!” my wife sneers.
What do you expect from a woman more concerned about public opinion than protecting our home from marauding rodents? I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a card-carrying member of PETA.
I inherited this vendetta from my father, who’d sit on the back porch, with a loaded BB gun resting on his crossed legs. He was an inventive man who spent retirement trying to solve the squirrel problem by designing baffles and deterrents to protect his feeders. In the end, nothing succeeded, so he resorted to the threat of force.
I have about 10 bird feeders, half of which are touted as “squirrel-proof.” They have baffles and spring-activated feeding holes that close when a squirrel touches them; however, I’m convinced the squirrels read the owner’s manual because they get the seed every time even if they have to hang by their rear paws — sometimes clinging with only one paw – while they stuff their little faces.
One squirrel has gymnastic skills that remind me of Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. It prances along a thin branch as if it’s a balance beam, and in a miraculous display worthy of a gold medal, it grabs the branch with its hind legs, swoops down and scoops up the seed with its front paws and then acrobatically rights itself and scampers away. For performances like that, I should be rewarding them, not harassing them.
Unfortunately, when they can’t get at the seed, they resort to sabotage and try to chew their way through wire and hooks to bring down the entire feeder. What demented criminal mentality does something like that?
In the tradition of my father, I have a BB gun even though my wife yells every time she sees me pouring BBs into the barrel, probably because half of them spill on the floor. She’s made it clear she wants me to feed squirrels, not harm them. She’s a true child of the ’60s — make love, not war – but I’m afraid that pretty soon she’ll be giving them a key to the house so they can raid the refrigerator.
I’ve considered smearing Vaseline over the roofs of the feeders, enclosing them in a large cage or possibly bringing them in the house, but bird poop can be hazardous to your health so I better forget that idea.
The disturbing reality is that squirrels are smarter than I am. Sometimes I think they’re mutants — X-squirrels with super abilities. Surely, you’ve heard of Laotian giant flying squirrel.
There’s only one hope. With his presidential knack for new and innovative projects that seem to anger half of America, Donald Trump can enlist them as consultants and put them to use developing a foolproof wall along the border. Then, in the tradition of Barack Obama, he can award them the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with a lifetime supply of birdseed and free healthcare.
Anyway, by order of Congress, February is National Bird-Feeding Month, so get ready now and be sure to buy a few extra bags of seed for the neighborhood squirrels, who will provide hours of G-rated entertainment, more wholesome than you’ll find on TV.
Contact Joe Pisani at [email protected]