Normally I would cede this subject to Tim—our resident squirrel expert-but he is busy concocting pieces of more importance.
After the snowstorms of February in DC, it was one of my neighbors who asked: What happened to the squirrels? Everyone worries about them because those rats with fur are “so cute”—or as Tim would say, they have a good press. Good press? I had them in my attic and had to get rid of them. They were into my wrapping paper for their nest and made a huge mess. They were, quite definitely Jewish squirrels as the Chanukah paper—rather than the Christmas paper—took the hit. I had to spend $41 on a dang blasted trap and more on the wildlife removal guy after one of the residents took the peanut butter bait. One squirrel can, by the way, make a lot of noise—and even more once the trap slams shut. The attic access that allowed the noisy furry rats in had to be slammed shut to prevent another round. All that was done the second week of January.
Maybe I should have waited a couple of weeks for them to be snowed under. Natural causes might have done them in.
During the spate of recent snowstorms the squirrels entirely disappeared from my neighborhood--as well as from The National Mall. I haven’t seen any in my suburban Virginia neighborhood since the back to back snow storms in February which left DC reeling under 3 feet of snow. I did notice 3 of them around the Vietnam Wall last week downtown, but I didn't notice which color they were. I just thought, "Drat, the furry rats are back." I can’t personally report on the squirrel situation over at Squirrel Central (aka Lafayette Park opposite the North Side of The White House), as I haven’t had a tour group there to check it out—and, believe me, tour guides do not sally over aimlessly to the monuments to check on the squirrel population when duty does not call. However, our resident squirrel expert, Tim Krepp, has been over to The White House and reports that Lafayette Park is "curiously absent" of the furry rodents.
I went googling on the internet to see what I could find on the subject and—wouldn’t you know--The Washington Post had written a piece about the crash of the squirrel population on February 8th, so my idea for this piece had been preempted. In the true spirit of not reinventing the wheel, some of what follows is shamelessly stolen from the piece.
No doubt some of the squirrels died, but many simply have remained in their nests. While they busily stuff themselves in times of plenty, they eat less and move less when there is less food around. They adapt. So, no worries, the squirrels will be back (although hopefully not in my attic). It would take weeks of cold weather and snow to kill them off. Squirrels, by the way, can live up to 20 years in captivity. The Eastern Gray reproduces twice a year. So, while some may have died in the snowstorms, some survived. There will be more squirrel babies who survive because there will be more food for them if some of the adults perished. Squirrel Central will be up and running in no time flat as some people find it amusing to feed them and others of their kind hit the trash cans for “goodies”.
The dearth of squirrels is temporary. They'll be back. If you want to learn everything about the Eastern Gray, just click here.