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My husband, my hero, the flying squirrel catcher

By Monica Howell
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007

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Chatham County, NC - So my husband and I have had this annoying, never ending issue with flying creatures in our home since we moved in. The first flying creature happened to be a bat. Not an easy task to capture a bat, my landlord suggested I use a jar; she obviously has never tried to capture a bat before. Thanks to my neighbor that creature is history.

The second creature we had previously misidentified as a chipmunk, and up until midnight last night when we had the unnerving privilege of a closer approach to what we now know is or should I say WAS a flying squirrel. These varmints will literally drive you crazy and destroy a home in the meantime.

Two days ago I was cleaning out our bedroom closet going through unworn clothes and doing an all around spring cleaning when 2 large chunks of the ceiling literally fell on my head. I looked up and there he was with his big brown eyes looking down at me. The little booger had chewed through the sheet rock. And not only that, he took one of my husbands' sweatshirts and chewed it up and made a nest in the top of our closet.

As I am sure you could imagine this sent me over the edge and into a state of "survival of the fittest", it was beyond the point of trying to live with it until warm weather comes. These squirrels have chewed through photos, clothes, sheet rock and who knows what else we haven't seen in the crawl space upstairs. Not to mention all the massive amounts of squirrel turds we are going to have to clean up. They were no longer cute and fuzzy with big brown adorable eyes; I wanted them out of my house. The survival race was on!

I called my landlord, who I had previously been quite pleasant to regarding this situation and this time handed her an earful of how upset I was that it had been over two months and I was ready for a full night's sleep. I told her that between the varmints scurrying through the walls and my dogs running around trying to capture a sound without a face, that I was spent. I explained to her that I may not have the neatest house in the world but I am definitely a clean person, I asked her to come and look at the house, see for herself that this was in fact not a result of an unsanitary environment.

She tried once again to come up with some grand plan, (remember the bat and the jar idea, another grand plan), well I stopped her mid sentence and explained that it was not something that I was willing to live with anymore, and that she needed to have this problem taken care of and now. I also told her that a rodent's feces can carry diseases that could cause someone to become extremely ill if not dead. When I mentioned this, it seemed to capture her attention. Finally. Well she had our neighbor come over (the same one who caught the bat, nice guy always coming to our rescue) and he put metal up outside the house where they had chewed through and were coming in. Now not only could they NOT get in the house now, they couldn't get out either. Oh boy, this made for a long and interesting night.

The first capture was a little after midnight. We had just gone to bed less than 30 minutes before and I was still reading, when I heard something crash in the living room. I woke my husband up and we went to observe the mayhem.

What we found was a very wet (from dog slobber) and very scared flying squirrel. It seemed to think that the corner behind the turtle tank was the safest place to hide. After a few minutes of my husband and I bickering about the proper container to catch it in we both had the bright idea at the same time to get our daughters minnow net to capture it with. I'm not sure if it was because I was so tired and so anxious to catch this thing but whatever the reason I just started to laugh hysterically, which in turn made my husband laugh as well. You don't always get your brightest ideas around 12:30 in the morning and our method of capture may not have been the most humane but it was most definitely humorous. By 12:45 we were back in bed and laughing ourselves to sleep, we had won, well for the meantime.

At a little after 5 this morning I hear what sounds like someone throwing small rocks at my bedroom window, from the inside. Under normal circumstances I would have thought just that, but my first thought was, here we go again and at 5 am no less. My husband, who by the way appears to be sleeping soundly, sits strait up in bed when I elbow him saying, "What's that?" He gets out of bed to turn the overhead light on and I cover my eyes with the blankets. I am waiting under those blankets in hopes that he will confirm that there is indeed someone, hopefully our 3 year old daughter, throwing small rocks at our window, but instead I hear him say, "Keep your eyes on him."

I peeled the blanket down from my eyes just far enough to see it sitting on top of the window sill, amidst my rock collection. From the kitchen he asks, "Where is Ellie's net?" I'm still lying in bed with the blankets up over my nose with no intention of getting up and wondering at what point in a past life did I do something to an animal that made me deserve this. "I don't know where the net is, it's 5 in the morning." And then it started to climb the window trying to get away from Sprocket (our Plott Hound) who was staring it down and I yelled for my husband to come back. He came with net in hand and ready to catch. "Go get another container," my husband says to me. I nervously get out of bed and head towards the kitchen to look for another cookie tin or Tupperware container when I see Zoë (our Rottweiler) staring at the wall with her little nub of a tail wagging furiously. I looked up and there were 2 more squirrels climbing the walls. Needless to say I screamed. I am awake at this point. I yell for my husband and he retorts with the obvious, which is, "I only have one net."

The laughing starts again and I am beginning to wonder just how many flying squirrels are in my house. We caught (my husband caught them, I supervised) five flying squirrels before we left the house this morning at 8 am.

Ok, so I realize that our method of catching flying squirrels might not be considered the most humane but I've had just about all I can take of these varmints. At least I'm not shooting them with a BB gun, not that I haven't thought of it. They will drive you out of house and home and before you realize it you are at the point of no return and you are up at 5 am with your 3 year olds minnow net and an old Christmas cookie tin yelling obscenities at a creature that has no clue what you are saying. We weren't being remotely quiet during this whole process either and somehow our daughter slept through it all. Can I please tell you that a hundred plus pound Rottweiler is not that great at catching flying squirrels nor is a Plott Hound, but they do find it great fun to run up and down hard wood stairs chasing them all night long. Bless them both for keeping these flying rats on their toes for I imagine my lucky dogs will sleep all day.

And my husband, the flying squirrel catcher, he is definitely my hero!

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My husband, my hero, the flying squirrel catcher
Monica Howell, owner of the Bead Hive in Pittsboro, NC writes about her husband's squirrel catching abilities.
photo by Gene Galin
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