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Life (and death) with Squirrels

Cute little critter isn't he? Look at those little ears and that sweet little face. Can you imagine anyone wanting to harm anything that looks like this?

Well imagine me. These are not benevolent creatures placed on earth by God to amuse us with their antics as they defy all our means of keeping them from eating the birdseed we put out for their brothers and sisters in the bird kingdom. These little bastards are evil and they don't care if the birds starve. They will eat all the birdseed and if you buy an expensive squirrel-proof feeder they will eventually conquer it even if they have to knock it to the ground and rip it to pieces. But I can live with that. What I can't live with is that they get into my house by chewing through whatever weak spot they find in the roof and then eat their way through walls, wiring, insulation while raising families in the safe, warm home that they are destroying one gnaw at a time, all day and into the night, waking everyone in the family too early for civilized people.

So what can one do about a squirrel? The most humane thing you can do is shoot him. I am not at that point yet but I am getting there. I have compromised by borrowing a have-a-heart trap that I put in a piece of bread with peanut butter and a carrot which are supposedly irrisistable to squirrels which I put right by the hole the squrrel gnawed above my front porch. So far no luck. I don't know if it is because they are really smart or because they would rather eat sunflower seeds. Maybe now that they have destroyed my last bird feeder they will go for the peanut butter and until they become wise to it one by one I will catch them and drive them out to the country and let them free. Sadly though, a squirrel who is captured and released far from his home does not live a happy life no matter how suitable to squirrels his new surroundings appear. For you see squirrels are very territorial and any squirrels in the area will make life miserable for my squirrel who will keep wandering from place to place, being harrassed by local squirrels until he eventually freezes, starves to death, gets run over, or miraculously makes his way Disney-like back to my attic after a series of adventures that no one will ever know. It is for this reason my friend suggests spray-painting his tail blue so if he returns I know I have to take him further than the ten, twenty or fifty miles I have already driven each squirrel.

I have given a lot of thought to shooting them. I tried to get my nephew and an ex-boyfriend of my daughter who are both woodsy kind of guys who have no trouble killing a stray deer or two and have on many occasions killed and eaten squirrel either out of poverty or the joy of hunting and eating their own food. Squirrel tastes good they tell me (like chicken probably) and my squirrels should be exceptionally delicious after eating several hundred pounds of sunflower seeds the last couple years. They are practically farm-fed. But so far neither kid has taken me up on my offer of free squirrel meat and we have gotten to the point that anyone we meet we ask if they have a gun and if they like squirrels. One problem is that you can't shoot a gun in Carrboro. Not even a pellet gun. I can understand that. I have parents with small children on three sides of my house and a house full of hot college chicks on the fourth and I don't want anyone to get hurt over my squirrel problem. But yesterday Andrea came home from the jewlery store where she works and told me that she found out I can use an air-rifle within town limits and it will kill a squirrel. Yes. The same Andrea who spent a thousand euros of our money and traveled all over the Cyclades trying to find a home for a rabbit that everyone just wanted to eat. Even she wants me to shoot the squrrels which are no less cute than the rabbit, until you get to know them.

I don't want to give the impression that I have not been writing about Greece because I have been obsessed with squirrels. I have just been focused more on other things, including squirrels. And actually this gives me the opportunity for a bit of moralizing on the problem of the Greeks cruelty to animals or more precisely their indifference to those among them who are cruel to animals. During the German occupation and the civil war that followed when food was scarce and people were foraging to survive, they were in competition with the dogs who were doing the same. For those who grew up during that period their attitude towards animals is much different than ours and the current Greeks. Killing litters of puppies, as heartless as it seems to us, was a matter of survival. Cute puppies grow into hungry dogs who when they get too hungry can be dangerous. Not to say there is not an element of cruelty that runs through many people, some more than others, which when justified is allowed to run wild. But in life when times are hard and you are struggling to survive, cuteness takes a back seat. Yes there are Greeks who poison animals and yes most of society does not see this as a major problem, one reason being they now have so many other major problems, having enough money to eat currently among them, that they can't keep track of them. But the war generation is dying out and what the Greek government and animal rights activists should be doing is focusing on educating the generations which followed, that killing animals or being cruel to them is wrong so the sins of the fathers are not passed on to the future generations.

That being said I have three things to do today that a few months ago would have been unthinkable.
1) Go to Wallmarts
2) Buy a gun
3) Shoot a bunch of cute fuzzy animals.

Pray for me.

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