My Mom called just the other day, and as we chatted I learned that she has squirrels in her attic. Now, often as not, she’d be likely to use her Irish wit and say: ‘Now, not bats in my belfry-squirrels in the attic. I want to be clear on that.’
Mom simply loves the squirrels in the summer and has told them many times that she’d have plenty of nuts for them as long as they found winter homes elsewhere. It really doesn’t help that there is a wonderful abundance of nut trees in groves out and about the lawns.
It Sounded Like a War Zone
Actually, I don’t think Mom was overly concerned about them, enjoying their daytime antics. Sleeping 2 floors below their nighttime romper room, she hardly heard a thing. That was until my older brother came to visit for a few days.
The first morning in, at the breakfast table he mentioned that there seemed to be a war zone happening above his head. You see he had been trying to sleep in an upstairs bedroom. Mom wasn’t overly fazed saying that she really hadn’t heard anything. (We always said she could sleep through a bomb, and actually slept through a shotgun blast below their bedroom window during a late-night Shivaree). (Now that’s a story for another time)
Not a Happy Camper
My brother didn’t share her complacency though and began to remind her, at great length, of all the negative attributes of those deceptively friendly-looking nut eaters, the squirrel. He reminded Mom that her innocent image of squirrels was nothing but the careful marketing of many famous peanut butter companies. As a matter of fact, he quickly reminded her that they aren’t only noisy, (and he’d like to sleep) but dirty, toxic creatures, potentially rabid, and absolutely mean. That is when they’re not absentmindedly scurrying hiding food. Then carrying on, he discussed the potential damage to wiring, insulation and everything else bad about them.
This Old House
Now, this particular attic is a crawl space over the second floor of a very old farmhouse. It’s a house we all love dearly, with its many character traits and oddities. This farmhouse is old enough to still have a portion of dirt floors in the basement where the newts and salamanders became our pets as children.
When we were young, my father had liquid insulation sprayed into the walls and bats of insulation added to the attic. I can remember coming home after the insulation had been sprayed in to look with wonder at the ‘snow drifts’ in each of the bedrooms where it had come right through the walls.
Back to the Squirrels in the Attic
But, back to the squirrels. My brother headed outdoors to assess the damage and find just where the critters were gaining entry. The farmhouse has a few different roof levels with the steepest pitched roof facing the road and decorated with beautiful, ancient gingerbread trim with a simple pinnacle and wooden soffit.
Well, this excursion brought to light a number of fair-sized entry holes chewed right through the soffit. Sadly, the best repair would be to remove that wonderful gingerbread and put vinyl soffits and fascia in. However, that is not to be. Mom simply doesn’t want to lose that historical flair anytime soon. It will take both my brothers’ careful work to restore the soffit and save the trim.
You Might Need to Call in the Pros
By the time I talked to Mom, my brother had left (rather tired), and there seemed to be a few additional families of squirrels moved into this warm insulated space. Now Mom was being kept awake. Some of the squirrels were permanently moved out while my brother was there, but they would keep coming in until the soffit was repaired.
Luckily, having two brothers retired from the building industry, the job will be done carefully to Moms specifications…keep the gingerbread. If you’re not that lucky though, you may have to call in a few of the professional services to deal with the problem. Just remember, neither squirrels in the attic – or bats in the belfry are a good thing.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credits: Veronika Kovecses, Stephen Elliott
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