Column: Nope, no party for my squirrels


Squirrel Appreciation Day is Jan. 21, 2020. Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator from Asheville, North Carolina, started this rodent celebration on Jan. 21, 2001. Christy, why do humans need a day to give kudos to squirrels?

I want to create a “Squirrel Stay Out of My Yard Day” to keep my dog from going bonkers whenever the bushy-tailed creatures sprint by the window. Which seems to happen a lot. Then my other dog joins in the barking and howling fest. My dog’s New Year’s resolution is to catch that creepy critter.

My biggest complaint is when the feisty chattering varmints take bites out of the tomatoes in my garden. What’s up with that? It’s just rude. I don’t sneak into their walnut stash. I need a chew-proof tomato. The Old Farmer’s Almanac says to plant nasturtiums, marigolds, and mustard as a border around your vegetable garden, as these plants have an unpleasant aroma.

Those bulb-digging bandits also are known to steal my freshly planted flower bulbs in the Fall. And they bury acorns in my lawn. Squirrels are hoarders with shoddy memories. They forget where they buried the treasure. They’d make poor pirates.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune: “Squirrels are a nuisance and frustration for many gardeners when the critters dig up newly planted tulip and crocus bulbs. They can be difficult to deter, as they are attracted to the freshly dug earth that is a result of your bulb planting. When they run across the disturbed soil, they will investigate what is buried there and end up finding your bulbs instead of a stash of nuts. The squirrels will sometimes taste the bulbs and then just drop them somewhere in your yard.”

Those malicious mammals are arboreal acrobats that will find a way to eat birdseed from any feeder. And their teeth are scary. Squirrel teeth never stop growing. Argh. They are chewing machines with buggy eyes.

Does anybody know of a Squirrel Whisperer for hire? A person that can think like a rodent. I don’t want to harm the furry pests. I just want them to go far away.

According to a 2018 story in the Springfield News Sun, in the early 1800s, squirrels were a huge problem in Ohio: “The population exploded in Kentucky and thousands of squirrels swam across the Ohio River to attack the corn fields of Ohio.”

That is bizarre. An Ohio River squirrel invasion. Farmer against fiend. I can imagine the rodent soldiers wearing tiny helmets and carrying teeny machetes and chattering: “Charge! Corn on the cob for all!”

According to several articles on the internet, squirrels can swim. They “dog paddle” with their front legs and use their tail as a rudder. Who knew?

No posting warm and fuzzy stories from me on social media at #SquirrelAppreciationDay. Christy may consider squirrels to be furry friends and cuddly little forest creatures, but not me.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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