For the record, I did not intend on having any follow up to my original story about the Asshole Squirrel who keeps trying to squat in my attic. But, since she (or maybe he, if it’s her offspring?) seems to be about as stubborn as I am, there were a few things I still needed to do in order to (hopefully forever?) prevent the attic squirrel from finding a way back in.
Who’s ready to see some dusty flash photography of an attic? You know I am.
For those who want a refresher, the gist is that I have been battling a small but irritating rodent for the last few months. It wants to be my roommate, and that sounds about as appealing to me as touring the world with Mona Lisa Saperstein.
Anyway, every few weeks since first successfully evicting it from the attic, the squirrel has tried to access the front window area next to my bedroom. I suppose that’s pretty lucky for me, since it means I don’t have to camp out in other parts of the house to see if there’s activity anywhere else. Nope — instead, it tries to get in by gnawing on the roofline that’s directly over my head as I’m sleeping in the morning. Hooray for wake-up calls! Yay, nature!
For a while, I thought that I had done a pretty decent job of covering any access points with steel hardware cloth, but knew in the back of my mind that I had left one vulnerable spot. Basically, I’d covered about 80% of the area and left one spot unstapled (after running out of the pre-cut mesh I’d dragged into the attic space with me during the heat of summer). I knew the squirrel could come back eventually, but I also hoped that through sheer will I could prevent it from happening, since going back up there meant doing the worst yoga the world has ever seen.
Well, you can all probably guess where things wound up: the squirrel found my attic’s exhaust port* and found its way back in. Because squirrels aren’t as dumb as I want them to be.
The squirrel had a pattern where it would leave the roof alone for several weeks before returning and trying to gnaw on the same spot. I suppose the reason why it likes this area is because of the drain spout, which works as a ladder of sorts while it concentrates on eating a hole along the top board separating the roof from the siding. Through either hubris or laziness — or both, take your pick — I chose to simply walk outside when this was happening, shout something at it (“Yeah, I SEE YOU, JAGWEED”), or throw a pine cone near the spot to let it know I wasn’t above getting into a petty fight. The squirrel would run away, and I didn’t have to go back into the attic again. I considered this a win.
But, after a pattern of hurriedly gnawing at the spot and being chased off (and repeat) continued, the squirrel did manage to squeeze its portly body back through the opening it had created. Once I heard the familiar scampering across the ceiling, I had to act fast. I waited for it to leave, then went back up, contorted myself back through the narrow opening, and accessed the small nook above the front window of the house. After climbing up the previous few times, it was far less creepy and I was sure I wouldn’t come face to face with more angry squirrels. Or rather, I hoped.
Since I didn’t get much of a chance during all of the previous time’s activities to take pictures, I snapped a few extra photos this time around. Below, you can see the front opening (the squirrel’s original access point) of the gable vent that I’d already covered in steel mesh.
Once that hole was closed off (to be repaired cosmetically from the outside next spring), it found a way to leave from the right side of this space by gnawing along the board that separates the roof from the joists.
Which on the outside just so happens to be where the storm drain curls in the below pic.
Originally, I’d stapled the hardware cloth to the right, where I could see gnaw marks and a hole had been created (weak spots seemed to be where the roof, the horizontal board, and the rest of the attic area met). Lugging the entire roll of hardware cloth up to the attic and cutting it up there would be a nuisance, so I had only cut a few pieces that I thought would be sufficient. After running out, I hadn’t gone back up, leaving a small spot further to the left somewhat vulnerable. This is where the squirrel found its way back in, so lesson learned: take the effort to cover it all up in one go!
That’s pretty much what I did this second time around. I covered the original spots where I could see gnaw marks, but it was made even easier to see these spots since the light filtered in more heavily in these areas. If you’re doing this yourself, just keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be pretty or sophisticated; as long as it won’t wiggle out of place (even if it meant stapling onto a stray scrap of wood and wedging into place), you’re good to go.
Once those were stapled with the mesh, I took extra pieces and ran them along the rest of the roof line where I could still see light. The squirrel hadn’t tried these areas yet, but it would probably be just a matter of time. As an added measure, I sprinkled some cayenne pepper along the entire board as well (I’ve read that it’s effective for keeping them out of birdseed, so I figured it couldn’t hurt!).
I wish I could say that it’s entirely over yet, because the squirrel keeps making attempts but isn’t getting in again. Each time I hear the scratching noises, I run outside to let it know that I’m there and not really in the mood, throwing the occasional pine cone near the drain to chase it off.
Will this be the last few rounds with my attic squirrel? I can’t say for sure. But I have a shitload of pine cones at the ready.
*Relevant and timely Star Wars reference! Sorry folks, I have only seen the first movies once and haven’t yet seen the new movie in theaters, so I’m well aware that I’m making a dumb joke here. No spoilers, please! I am probably going to see it with some friends this week.