Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Squirrel Saga – Part Three

Lucky me! It only took a couple of weeks for the pest professionals to show up on scene. Once here they managed some cursory glances at the balcony and roof areas, haughtily lending their expertise to the problems at hand. Their demeanour was somewhat less than impressive – I imagined a panel of squirrels sarcastically shrilling in laughter in the background – but these days being high in demand allows them a certain swagger. Since I am not, of course, a highly educated (one of the local companies requires a university degree – a BA in foreign languages possibly?) trained technician both my opinion and presence were dispensed with in scant minutes. Later in the day, I learned that their considered solution was the appropriate placement of a humane trap on the roof directly in the daily path of the unwanted pests. After two or three days, I had received no word on the progress of the techies while above my head the squirrel (s) were continuing on with eating, chewing and scurrying parties, although they were early to bed and early to rise – which as summer approached was now occurring in advance of the alarm clock shrilling its summons. Once I received the go ahead from the manager, I merrily made my way back up to the rooftop to check out the situation. So I sidle over to the wire trap and the first thing obvious is the lack of bait, yet the door is still not sprung. Using a small stick, I pushed down on the trigger platform to discover the linking mechanism is bent, and further along near the door flap a return spring is caught up in the wire mesh. It had made it a cinch for any squirrel or rat to simply walk in to score some free food and exit safely to go about its business. With a little bit of judicious straightening and re-jigging, the trap was returned to working order; then it was merely a matter of placing a tasty treat of crackers and peanut butter as an inducement to enter. Normally, it should only take one or two days to catch an unwary varmint if they travel by in close proximity and catch the scent; however, four days later with no captive and the bait intact, I rechecked the mechanism which was still functioning perfectly. Either the prey had developed super intelligence or they were not frequenting this location at all, in spite of the expertise of the pest control men. Since there was a history of previous success of capture on the deck outside my unit, I offered to relocate the trap which also made it easier to check its status. Besides, I had grown bored with running down the hall, scaling up the wall ladder, twisting open the roof hatch, walking across the crunchy, wet, sticky roof surface, checking on the bait, and then returning in reverse order after another failed outing. In addition the rain kept liquefying the peanut butter and destroying the cracker, forcing me to either make separate trips to replace it or remember to bring some along each trek to the roof. With the trap in hand, the next consideration was placement – not really a monumental decision as the deck is five feet by ten feet – so the far end became the obvious choice. And then, rather than continually replacing the bait, part of the trap was wrapped in a cut up garbage bag to provide protection from incessant coastal downpours. Early the following morning, I slathered a Ritz cracker with a huge, heaping gob of crunchy peanut butter, adjusted the spring door mechanism, arranged the tantalizing tidbit on the release platform and with an Oil Can Harry snicker placed the trap outside. Now, Mr. Squirrel and I could play the waiting game, the eventual reward for me, the tinny snap of a sprung wire mesh trap door; for him, a possible vacation to a far away park.

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