Do I Have Too Quit?

sandieflMay 15, 2010

Most of you know that I had Breast Cancer and had to quit work while going through chemo and radiation. I worked at a PreSchool and couldn't be around the children. Now I have been released and can go back to work, but due to the economy, most of the teachers have had their hours cut and there will only be two classes this summer, so there is really no place for me right now. So, I have been gardening and growing plants to attract butterflies and birds. I have enjoyed so much sitting in my back yard on my bench and watching the birds.Then I made friends with a squirrel. She eats right out of my hands. I call her Miss Piggy because she will eat as long as I will sit out with her. Two days ago I looked out on my screened porch, and there was a squirrel on my table. She chewed a hole in the screen. Yesterday she chewed another hole in the screen. This morning there were two squirrels on the porch. Jim and my brother have voted that I cannot feed the squirrels anymore. Jim is now repairing the screen. Just wondering if any of you knew of a way to keep them off the porch. I have heard that they are afraid of snakes and owls. I have vegetables growing so I put a rubber snake there to keep them away, and I watched as they jumped in the bucket and buried a peanut. The owl is sitting in front of my strawberries, doesn't bother them. Do I just quit feeding them? They were such a comfort to me, and I do love them.Sorry this is so long.

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It probably would be a good idea...It is a shame when these things happen but those creatures don't know any better...Maybe if you'd find another place away from the house and try to feed them there...We used to have the chipmunks come on the porch and I did the same thing but they can be trouble...You don't want to take a chance that they get into the house or attic...
I'm still finding peanuts buried in our yard and it's been years since we had the little critters....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 12:54PM
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If you enjoy the squirrels.. maybe keep feeding them but protect the screens with clear plexiglass at the bottoms of them?

A dog might keep them away too.. but that would keep all of them away.

Sorry you are having this dilemma.. hope you find a solution that can make you happy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 12:55PM
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You've heard the adage bite the hand that feeds them? That's the problem when you feed squirrels. They're not stupid - they know the difference between plastic and predators and they soon figure out where the food is and as you've discovered, they're willing to help themselves.

Squirrels are rodents, like mice. Basically you have about three choices: You need to drive them away, cut off ability to enter or exterminate. Poison peanuts are very effective but I imagine you're not interested in option 3.

I take it you don't have a cat or a dog. Either will help but when they're not there, the access is still possible.

Do you have any oak, walnut or other types of trees around? They'll provide a natural food source for the squirrels and eventually will dissuade them from breaking in for food. The idea is to get them feeding away from your house. A maintained squirrel feeder away from the house will help too. Dried field corn is great. You just put the cobs out there and they'll be happy. Some nails or bolts to jam the cobs onto make an easy to build feeder.

Have you tried giving the screens a shot of cayenne pepper? Not sure if that would work or not. Not a long term solution but can help in the short term if it works.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 1:55PM
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In a word - yes.

As cynic pointed out, squirrels are rodents. They are persistent. They will shred your screens, they will claw at doors, and they will tell their friends.

You have a fondness for this squirrel, but the squirrel sees you only as a source of food.

I won't even get into the fleas and other parasites and diseases squirrels are prone to.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:26PM
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Yes, you've created a problem and now it will be hard to fix, I'm sorry to say. I know all about this from similar actions from my son's tenants last year. We tried everything we could think of to discourage them from chewing through the screens, finally, we had to put hardware cloth over the window they ours was used to coming through. Cayenne Pepper doesn't work with squirrels/rodents whose behaviour (coming through the screens) is deeply entrenched, and they will keep this memory for at least 3 years after they are blocked from entering (I discussed this in great detail with an extermination company).

In the end, the contractor was there changing the windows and he put the old window in his trailer. He said the lead squirrel went on a rampage when he took the window out and put it there and was having quite a tantrum in the trailer- so he "dispatched" it. There are two windows in that room this squirrel liked to go through, and in case his family members have a "history" going through that window, my son will keep the window closed and not put the screen in for two more years.

I did a lot of research on this "squirrel" issue. It's easy to get squirrels to lose their fear of humans by feeding them, but it almost always means certain death for them in one way or another. Either they mistake an unfriendly human for a friend, or they force an issue like the squirrel in my story above, which results in their own fatality. It wouldn't surprise me to see someone post otherwise, but you definitely (at least) increase the chance that the animal will die prematurely. For this reason, most animal advocates would prefer that you don't befriend a squirrel.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:32PM
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what if you put a squirrel feeder in the far corner of the
yard. NOT close to your home, and you don't have any more
contact with them. just watch them from afar?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 5:01PM
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I am afraid, you won't like my reply. Honestly, you should never have started. Don't feed coons or other wildlife either! Not even deer.

A friend of mine had $24000.00 damage in her attic because of squirrels. She needed all new electric wiring.

Please quit. You might consider trapping them, and relocating them in some natural park or someplace way off.

Yes, that seems kind of mean, but it is better than hoping there won't be any destruction at your house now.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 6:10PM
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Thank all of you for your input. I know what you are saying is right. I should never have started feeding them. I do have a dog and she barks at them while she is on the porch but she doesn't stay out there and it seems that they do it at night or early in the morning. My husband did rescreen the porch and moved my bench out front. That is where she would wait for me. I will not be feeding them out front or anywhere else. There are too many squirrels in our neighborhood to be able to trap the ones who think I have opened a diner for them.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 7:14PM
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What kind of squirrels do you have? The red "piney" squirrels are really bad about chewing. I live in a woods and have both the piney and the fox or gray squirrels. No problems with them, but I don't hand feed them. In town I had a friend that hand fed her fox squirrels and she didn't have any problems. She named her squirrel "Squeaky". I hope you don't have any more problems.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 7:26PM
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My answer to is yes,but the reason is far different than the others,although i agree with them also.

Since you had chemo and radiation,i'm sure your immune system is compromised like the rest of us that's been throug that.You sure don't want that squirrell scratching you,or anything even if it's by accident.

My house has a canyon behind it and there is no way i'd feed those squirrells or anything else that wanders around down there.God made those critters so they can fend for themselves!!
Also like the OP said you don't want them getting into your attic,ohhhhhhhh the damage they can do.

Wishing you well on your cancer journey,hope all is well and stays that way.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 8:34PM
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Hi Sandie!!!

How are you doing attracting butterflies? Mark and I raise them. We haven't really had any until this week. Now we have eggs for either a Pipepine Swallowtail or Polydamas Swallowtail on our pipevine and and Black Swallowtail eggs on our dill. Today a Gulf Fritillary layed eggs on the passionvine. We saw a Buckeye today which I have been hoping to get (we planted snapdragons and foxglove) but so far no eggs. No Monarchs yet either - we haven't even seen one.

I think it's really cool that you can handfeed Miss Piggy. I would put a squirrel feeder out away from your house to keep them out of the porch and I would feed Miss Piggy special treats by hand. I don't have squirrel problems - my cats on the screened porch is enough to keep them away.

Stay well my friend!!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:27PM
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Yesterday, we went to buy a new bird feeder. The squirrels had chewed it to death. The guy said to put red pepper flakes around the feeder and the plants they were eating. He said it won't hurt the birds but the squirrels don't like it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:17AM
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I've tried the red pepper flakes... it did not deter our squirrels. The only thing that has kept them off the feeder which is on a pole is a large metal baffle. They destroyed the plastic baffle within a week.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:26AM
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I have a metal baffle on mine too on a metal pole. It also keeps the cats from climbing and getting to the birds.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 12:00PM
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Renee, I planted the milkweed like you said and I have seen several butterflies and lots of dragon flies.I don't know my butterflies like you do, but the one I see the most is brown and yellow. I do know the Monarchs and have not seen any yet. Also am waiting for the Hummingbird. I have Blue Jays, Doves a pair of Cardinals and a Red Headed WoodPecker. Also lots of Mockingbirds. I do know a lot of birds, but I have a rust colored one that I have not identified yet.

The squirrels did not get on the porch last night, but they were looking for me this morning. I wear a compression sleeve and a gauntlet on my right arm, so was trying to convince myself that I would be safe. My head tells me that there are too many reasons not to feed them so I will watch the birds and butterflies.Also my Sandy,My Lhasso will be happier if I am not spending my time with the squirrels. Thank you again for telling me what my head already knew but my heart wasn't listening.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 2:04PM
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I used to feed them at my kitchen window....Once you start they get really demanding.

I wasn't home one day so they chewed their way in...Smashed my daughter's birthday cake that was sitting on the table...Chewed the wood things that made my windows look like paned windows...Knocked my other daughters little ceramic dolls off the shelf in her bedroom and broke them....pooped on my bed....That was it for me...they were no longer cute to me anymore..Just a darn tree "RAT"....The don't come around the house out here. And they are smart if they don't.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 6:06PM
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sandi your squirrel was like the stuff animal i've been keeping around since my chemo/radiation..and my cats...omgoodness they have been my rock (before, too) the unconditional love pet animals give is very healing!

think i'd turn to my doggie pal for now and just enjoy mother nature from a distance...

i was concerned when you said you wern't allowed to be arround the docs didn't mention that and i saw my grands off and on during my radiation (33 day treatment) the only thing they did mention was no kissing, ect, becaue of the germs little kids have...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 6:43PM
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DH used to feed the squirrels till it got out of hand. We got over run with them, they are eating everything, our wood deck rails too. Now he has to get rid of them every chance he has. Please don't feed them out of your hand, they WILL BITE!!! I got bit by a pet squirrel about 8 yrs ago and I still have pain where the bite was.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 10:38PM
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Susanjf, I worked in a PreSchool with a lot of different 3 and 4 year olds. That is why they said it wouldn't be safe for me. When I was ready to go back, my granddaughter who is working there now, said that Strep was going around and a stomach flu.She said that it would be better to wait. Because I live near the Space Center, a lot of our parents have lost their jobs, and they made up the majority of our clients. So the Church has had to cut back. I go to see my Oncologist this week and will ask her if I can work in the nursery, just on Sundays. I miss the staff and I so miss being with the children. My Sandy is and has been my constant companion since my first bout with Breast Cancer 10 years ago. In fact my daughter Lisa found her for us after I finished radiation and Jim was recovering from bypass surgery. We had always had a dog but at the time we didn't. When Lisa found Sandy and she was a year old, she said that has to be Mom's dog. And she has been one of my best friends ever since. Sorry to be talking so much, lately but I feel like all of you are the friends and teachers that I don't see everyday anymore. Thank you all for listening ears.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 12:14PM
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You might find "Squirrel Away" at Walmart's garden center or any other garden center, to put around your house and plants. I haven't tried it, so I don't know if it works, but it might help. Please don't feed them anymore, for your sake and theirs. You DON'T want them in the house!


    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 12:15PM
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