Mike and I recently returned from a mini-vacation to find chaos in the basement: jars knocked from a shelf; hangers askew; insulation bits all over the floor. However, there was no sign of intrusion—all the doors and windows remained intact and locked. This could mean just one thing: a critter. Because all the damage came from up high, we assumed it was a squirrel.
It was late and we were tired, so we tried the easy solution—opening the door to the outside and going back upstairs. Before retiring, we closed it up again and hoped that would be the end of it.
The next morning, I woke to the sound of some scritchy-scratches under the floorboards. Mr. Critter was still on the premises.
Commence half-asleep comedy routine: I rose, put on my eyeglasses and slippers, and went downstairs. I hadn’t bothered to dress, nor remove the mouthguard I wear at night that makes me lisp and look like I have rabbit teeth. I crept down the stairs in my pajamas and opened the door to our backyard.
I continued slowly to the basement, which is divided into fourths. In the middle of the front “rooms” are the furnace and hot water tank. The back rooms have sliding doors. I didn’t see anything in the half I was in, so I made my way carefully over to a baseball bat and then opened the sliding door to the room below our bedroom. Nothing there, so I closed the door behind me. Perimeter ¼ secure.
I went back around the water heater to get to the far side of the basement. As I approached the sliding door to that room, a commotion erupted above my head—the squirrel was in the rafters, dodging along a pipe to get away from me. This was good; he was heading toward the open door.
“Hey, Thquirrel,” I said. Both Mike and I have a propensity for addressing animals directly. “You can’t thtay down here.”
The squirrel clung to his pipe and stared at me.
“Go on.” I said. He twitched his tail but didn’t move.
This Grizzly Adams strategy wasn’t panning out; Mr. Squirrel needed a bit more encouragement. I poked my bat in his direction. “Go on, Thquirrel!” I yelled.
The squirrel raced across a cable that was stapled to the rafters toward the other side of the basement. I ducked around him and got behind him, and then whooped and waved my bat in his direction, hoping to send him out the door. Instead, he darted back toward the far side of the basement.
Undaunted, I ran back over there too, got behind him again and commenced to yelling like a cowgirl on the range. “Hup, squirrel! Ha! Get on!” I banged my bat against the rafters and the air ducts.
The squirrel ran toward me! I shrieked and hollered, and he corrected course and holed up above the water heater.
By this time, Mr. Squirrel was also upset. He glowered at the giant demonic lisping rabbit-creature pointing a bat at him, and barked and clucked.
I could hear Mike laughing upstairs.
There needed to be two of us; otherwise, I would just keep chasing the squirrel back and forth all morning. I retreated to the living quarters.
After dressing and eating breakfast, Mike and I prepared for Round 2. We made a plan—I would flush the squirrel toward Mike, and then Mike would flush him out the door.
We went downstairs. Even though the door remained wide open, Mr. Squirrel was still in the basement. I snuck over to the far side. The squirrel gave a few warning barks.
“GO ON, SQUIRREL!” I yelled. I banged the air duct for good measure. The squirrel took off on the cable toward Mike, who yelled and swung his broom. The squirrel missed a step and fell to the floor. He ran straight for the door and then—turned and ran toward Mike, who yelped and jumped in the air. The squirrel climbed some boxes and then dropped behind a section of pegboard attached to two-by-four stringers.
Now he was really mad. He cussed us out from behind the pegboard. We whacked on it a few times to try to scare him out of there. Then, it seemed like he might be stuck.
We pondered our next step.
“I just don’t understand it,” said Mike. “Why didn’t he go outside?”
I understood it. This squirrel wasn’t stupid—why curl up in a pile of leaves suspended in some tree branches when you can lounge in the rafters above a gas furnace?
But also, I looked out the door and cursed. While, yes, we had opened the door, we neglected to move the giant recycling bin that was right in front of it. So the squirrel might have left but when he got close he didn’t see green grass and trees, he saw a blue wall.
Squirrel 2, People 0
We ended up moving the bin, leaving the door open and going for a walk, hoping that A) Mr. Squirrel wasn’t stuck and B) The trauma of this episode might encourage him to leave. We lucked out; he was gone when we returned.
How To Remove a Squirrel from Your House
The best way is to allow/encourage it to leave on its own.
Step 1: Clear the pathway. Look at the escape route from both ceiling and floor level, and block any alternate routes.
Step 2: Wear gloves and have some sort of long implement—not to strike with, just to usher it toward the escape path.
Step 3: Quietly station yourselves on either side of the squirrel if possible.
Step 4: Action! Don’t go crazy but make some noise and use your implement. Be strategic. You want to encourage its Flight instinct and direct it toward the way out. Unless you get too close, you are in little danger of being bitten—the squirrel wants to stay as far from you as possible. Use this to your advantage by occupying areas behind the escape path. That said, don’t corner it, or it may feel that its only choice is Fight. Stay out of any place that will force the squirrel further into the house. The nice thing about a squirrel is it doesn’t want to be on the floor so it’s unlikely to hide under something.
Step 4a: If this doesn’t work, you might have to set a trap.
Step 5: Find its entryway and block it, so you’re not doing this repeatedly. It’s probably on the roof somewhere.