box of hair

We have a squirrel problem.

Thankfully it’s still a lower-case problem and not a PROBLEM…but still.

And yes, I know, I’m the person who is obsessed with chipmunks, and goes to outlandish lengths to befriend them. Chipmunks are not squirrels. Chipmunks hibernate in the winter. They’re tiny and cute and the holes they dig in my lawn are very small. They don’t inhale entire pounds of sunflower seeds on a daily basis. And, key point to this particular story: they don’t launch themselves bodily up the side of my house, trying to gain purchase on the siding so they can claw their way up to the bird feeder that is attached to my office window. 

Did you know that a chunky grey squirrel traveling at a high velocity can hit a wall hard enough to knock things off the interior windowsill of the affected wall? It’s true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes multiple times the past few weeks. 

The squirrels are also stressing Keppo the fuck out. Between the thumping on the wall, the scratching noises of them trying to climb the siding, and the chittering tirades when the red squirrels show up to invade what is apparently historically grey squirrel territory, there has been SO much barking. Patrols of the perimeter, which necessitate me being on the end of a leash because it’s not safe to let him out on his own, have also increased dramatically. Today we had to go out every 90 minutes all morning, for instance. I enjoy the walks but it’s really doing a number on what was my frankly already dismal rate of work productivity. 

All of this is what led up to me desperately Googling “how to repel squirrels” the other afternoon. The top three ideas that kept coming up were:

1. Spray predator urine in the area you want the squirrels to stay out of. If you’re a country person or grew up around hunters, you probably know that bottles of synthetic fox and coyote pee are readily available in most stores that sell hunting gear. Some hunters use it to mask the human scent on their clothes before going out into the woods. Initially this seemed like the best and most effective option for my squirrel issue but then I realized that:

  • we already have foxes and coyotes all over the place here and I really don’t want to pique their interest, thus bringing them closer to the house that my small defenseless dog lives in, 
  • the main spot that the squirrels hang out is under the bird feeder attached to my office window so that means I’d be spraying a canine-piss-scented substance directly under a window that I open multiple times a day, and 
  • the smell would probably drive Keppo almost as bonkers as the actual squirrels have been doing. 

2. Put up an owl decoy. This appealed to me simply because I like owls. I also got very excited at the prospect of neighboring owls possibly coming by to check out the decoy. Then I read that if you go the decoy route, you have to move it regularly because otherwise the squirrels will figure out its fake and then never respect the decoy OR you ever again. Which…that seems reasonable, honestly. What did NOT seem reasonable was the price of owl decoys though, so we were on to option number 3, which was…

3. Spread human and dog hair around the area you want to keep the squirrels out of. The idea is that they don’t like / are scared of the smells of humans and dogs so scattering hair around will keep them away. Since this was the cheapest, easiest, and most readily actionable of the top three ideas, I figured I’d give it a try. 

Mark brushed Keppo on Friday evening and collected all the hair in a little cardboard box. We put the box out in the mud room so that, should it get knocked over, it wouldn’t go all over the house. That turned out to be fairly smart because literally the next morning I was out in the mudroom putting a bag of trash out and what did I do? Knocked over the box of hair. Side note: this is how we learned that Keppo will attempt to eat clods of his own hair once they are detached from his body. My special, special boy. 

On Sunday morning I cut Mark’s hair and while that doesn’t result in a lot of clippings anymore (sorry dear), we figured what the heck, we’ll throw those in the Box of Hair as well. I also cleaned out a couple of my hair brushes, and I shed almost as badly as Keppo does, so by the time it was all said and done we had a pretty good stash going. 

This morning when I took Keppo out for our first patrol, I also took the Box of Hair. I carefully sprinkled it all around under the bird feeder and my office window. Keppo only tried to eat one chunk before he found some bird seed hulls that were even more illicit and therefore became his sole focus. We got everything set and then did our circuit of the house and returned back inside. Once back in my office, I opened the window a little bit and looked straight down just to make sure our placement was good. Perfect…a nice even coating of…hair. A hair barrier, if you will. A…hhhhhbarrier? Hair-ier? Wait no, that’s something different. But you get my drift. Pleased with my ingenuity, I sat down to get to work. 

All of ten minutes later I hear the characteristic scrabble-clunk-scrabblescrabble-crash of a fat-ass grey squirrel launching itself up the exterior wall. By the time I got up to go look out the window, a second had joined it. A red squirrel came barreling around the corner shortly thereafter. 

Not one of them gave a sweet blithering fuck about the hair barrier. They didn’t even slow down to sniff at it. I might as well have just scuffed my feet around the leaves a little as far as they were concerned. It was right back to business as usual for them and lack of ability to get any business done for me. 

So I guess it’s time to invest in an owl decoy and see how that goes. 

This is not a drive-through, sir.

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