Monday, June 8, 2015

Repurpose...Rethink...Repel rascally rodents

Take away the cuteness factor, and a squirrel is nothing more than a fluffy-tailed rat.

Cute little furry-tailed rascal nibbling sunflower seeds

My rodent realization moment happened the morning I looked out the kitchen window and saw not one or two but six gray squirrels scampering around the birdfeeders. Mind you, no birds were at the birdfeeders — only squirrels.

The greedy little rascals had selfishly devoured all the birdseed in one of the four feeders that hung within sight of my kitchen window. They were working their way through two of the others as well.

A squirrel guzzles down the seeds from this supposedly 'squirrel-proof' feeder

The only feeder they left alone was the one protected by a homemade baffle that my clever husband Ralph had constructed last year out of a section of shiny steel stovepipe.

My husband's original homemade stovepipe baffle.  See detailed pictures of how Ralph built the baffle at DIY squirrel baffle solves birdfeeder problem 

As I silently watched, the four-legged thieves stuffed their mouths with sunflower seeds, chased each other about and twitched their fluffy tails back and forth. My tolerance level plummeted. Although I had previously accepted the fact that a few squirrels were bound to eat some of the seeds I put out for the birds, it had never been my intention to provide a mixed-seed buffet for a rodent-only clientele.

Something had to change, and I knew just what to do to make it happen

“Ralph,” I said beseechingly, “I need you to build me more baffles.”

My husband looked up from the book he was reading. “I don’t have any more pieces of stovepipe,” he replied.

“Can’t you use something else?” I asked. “What about a piece of PVC pipe? There’s bunches of that up in the junk pile.”

Like many homesteads, ours has an area where spare bits of this and that remain until needed for one project or another. 

Ye olde family junk pile...

Sometimes called a boneyard, our junk pile is a repository for used appliances, old windows, doors, ceramic tiles, concrete blocks and assorted pipes including a wide range of PVC in various diameters and lengths. Later that day, Ralph returned from the junk pile with several sections of pipe for me to consider.

“This one will be perfect,” I said pointing to a three-foot long by four-inch diameter section of white PVC. “Can you attach it to this double shepherd’s hook?”

With two hooks on it, the metal shepherd’s hook would hold two of the remaining three feeders. Since that was the only shepherd’s hook I had, I decided to let the third feeder stay empty for a while.

It took Ralph less than an hour to convert the leftover segment of PVC pipe into a workable squirrel baffle. He threaded a piece of copper wire — also from the junk pile — through two small holes drilled in the top of the pipe and hung an upside down plastic container inside the pipe to block the opening in case one of the rodents managed to shimmy its way up the pole. He then attached the baffle to the metal shepherd’s hook so it hung about 18 inches off the ground.

When he was finished, I refilled two of the birdfeeders with new seed and attached them to the hooks. I also took down a suet feeder that the squirrels sometimes nibbled and secured that to the shepherd’s hook as well.

It didn’t take long for the squirrels to check it out. The next morning, while Ralph and I were eating our breakfast, a cotillion of fluffy-tailed rodents was anxious seeking food of their own.

Thanks to my husband's efforts, a baffled squirrel realizes his free meal days have ended

“Look!” I exclaimed to my husband. “The squirrels are trying to get to the feeders.”

A squirrel tries, unsuccessfully, to climb up the baffled pole beneath the feeder

Curious to see if his contraption had worked, Ralph peered out the window. We both watched in satisfied amusement as one squirrel after another tried and failed to reach the birdseed. They couldn’t jump to it because it was too far from any potential launch site, and they couldn’t climb to it because the suspended PVC baffle was too wobbly and slippery. Instead, they looked up in frustration as a cardinal came to eat the seed.

Birdseed is meant for birds, not squirrels

One squirrel is cute, but six fluffy-tailed rats eating seeds meant for the birds is five squirrels too many. Fortunately, my handy husband baffled the little rats with his PVC solution. Rethink. Repurpose. Repel the rascally rodents. End result: Rat pack, be gone!

1 comment: