Based on the droppings and the fact that it was hanging out on the kitchen counters, we assumed it was a rat – or worse yet, a colony of rats. We were in a tizzy, buying and setting traps everywhere we could. We even bought some sonic repellents, plugging them into 4 outlets in and around the kitchen. Yes, we were that desperate.
But when Deanna finally caught a glimpse of the culprit scurrying up the drying rack and diving behind the dryer, she laughed out loud.
“Mom! I saw it! It’s a squirrel!”
I think I can speak for the whole family when I tell you we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Yes, they may be known as tree rats, but who would you rather have in your kitchen?
Not that we actually wanted to have a squirrel in our kitchen, either. We still wanted it out, but not with the same passion and horror. We just wanted it to stop breaking stuff and pooping, and we didn’t think it would agree to visit us on those terms.
We spent the next hour taking turns peeking through the crack at the top of the laundry room door, oohing and aahing at the adorableness of little squirrel hands and feet and fluffy tails. We took videos and tried to get some photos.
Then we started thinking up a plan. The plan seemed pretty simple. We decided the squirrel was coming in through the dryer vent, so we would block the vent under the house and catch the squirrel while it was trapped in the laundry room.
Most of us kept watching through the crack while Becca and Kaitlyn went below to secure the exit. At their signal, I opened the door and the squirrel dove behind the dryer. I heard a scuffle and some excited exclamations: “I felt it! Did you feel it?! It went back up!” They pushed the entire dryer duct up through the hole in the floor, then blocked the hole with a rock.
Step 1 had succeeded. The squirrel was now trapped somewhere in the laundry room. We were reasonably sure it was hiding in the inner workings of the dryer.
We obviously didn’t think this through very well.
After a little consideration, we pulled the vent off the back of the dryer and peered inside. Nothing.
I turned the dryer on for just a second then off again quickly, trying to flush the critter. Still nothing.
We put a laundry basket over the opening and found a board big enough to cover the top of the basket. We slid the board between the back of the dryer and the basket, stopping just above the vent opening, and Kaitlyn volunteered to stake out the trap. When the squirrel ventured out of the dryer, she would drop the board between the vent opening and the basket, trapping the squirrel in the basket. The rest of us left while Kaitlyn stayed behind, still and quiet. We wanted the squirrel to think we were gone.
After a few minutes, Kaitlyn called me in. She had seen movement under a skirt lost behind the washer. A closer look revealed a furry tail tip. We had been tricked! Now what?
We could have just put on a pair of gloves and grabbed the skirt with the poor animal wrapped up inside. That’s exactly what some of the girls wanted to do, but I knew that a cornered animal would readily bite, and I didn’t know how strong a squirrel might be when it was fighting for its life. I had no confidence that we could hold it like that.
I had a better plan. A complete plan. A plan that was beautiful in its simplicity. I knew how we could catch this squirrel without having to chase it or risk being bitten by a terrified animal.
While the squirrel waited for the right moment to make her break for freedom, we put the duct back in the hole. I went below the house and positioned the end of the duct inside a rabbit cage. I even draped the opening of the cage with a pillow case so the squirrel couldn’t escape in the time it took me to yank out the duct and snap the door shut.
Perfect, right? How could it fail?
to be cont’d