Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue, shortly after their capture.
Yes, these two bushy-tailed reprobates managed to get into my house a little over a week ago, gnawing their way through a small, dry-rotted section of my outside cellar door. I initially became aware of their presence when I first heard Bobbie Sue, the louder, more tempestuous of the two, crawling around and whimpering inside the wet wall that carries the plumbing from the basement to the upper floors.
So I had a squirrel on my hands. But didn't realize I had two until the next day, when I spotted both of them in the attic.
The now blocked entry hole in the cellar door; Billy Joe shortly after his release, apparently making a rude paw gesture at me from his perch up in the tree
Fortunately for me, their access to the house was relatively limited. They had the run of the basement, of course (in which they made a real mess), the innards of the partition wall which they used as a pathway to the attic, the northeast chamber (which is currently empty, and I had kept the door closed all along, anyway, to stop drafts -- good thing for that), and then, of course, the attic. They have a natural instinct to climb to the highest possible elevations, and this must have prompted them to head up there.
Catching them was a royal pain. I swear, they knew what I was up to, and tried to mess with my head. I set a total of three Havahart live traps for them; two in the attic, and one in the basement, just in case either attempted to venture back outside the house via the basement. On one occasion, the bait (peanut butter) was removed from one trap without springing it. On another occasion, a trap was sprung, but with no animal inside. And then, the traps were totally ignored for several days. But eventually, either hunger prevailed, or they just got careless, and I caught both of them in the attic.
Of the two, Billy Joe was the quiet one, staying relatively still, except when I carried his trap, and never uttering a sound. But Bobbie Sue protested her entrapment loudly. I recognized her as being the one who complained from behind the wall a few days earlier, when I was banging it with a flat wrecking bar, trying to drive them away. And she fought the confines of her cage furiously, trying to bust her way out.
Bobbie Sue, escaping her trap and climbing the sappling
Fearing that they knew the house all too well at this point, and might find some other way back in, I decided to take them to nearby Osborndale State Park to release them to the wild. I released Billy Joe first. He immediately made for the nearest tree, and quickly ascended to the upper-most portion of the canopy.
Out on a small limb with no where else to go, Bobbie Sue eventually plummeted to earth, cushioned by the fresh snow (unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of this); she then quickly ascended the same tree taken previously by Billy Joe
But Bobbie Sue's path to freedom was a bit more haphazard, perhaps somewhat in keeping with her tempestuous nature. She darted toward a small sappling right near her trap and quickly climbed it, only to find herself hanging perilously from a very small limb, with no where else to go. She either deliberately let go, or lost her grip, and fell about seven or eight feet down onto the soft snow, totally unscathed, and then ran to the same tree Billy Joe had ascended previously, and began her fast ascent. After a while, she was completely out of sight, lost in the canopy of the tree.
By the way, in case you're wondering, I actually have no idea what sex either squirrel was. My choice of names was simply inspired by that old Steve Miller song, Take the Money and Run, which was playing on my van's radio during the drive over to Osborndale. Before writing this posting, I did some Internet research on Eastern gray squirrels, and found that males and females are generally indistinguishable in terms of relative size and fur coloration.
I also found that gray squirrels mate in January and have a gestation period of about forty-five days. So if either of these two squirrels happened to have been a pregnant female, rest assured that there's sufficient time to find an adequate nest for the new litter. But thank goodness that nest won't be my attic!