28 February 2009

One Texan's housing crisis

In today's edition of the Dallas Morning News, gardening columnist Mariana Greene has transformed herself into a kind of real estate writer: She greets the image of squirrels living in outdoor nesting boxes with the same kind of welcome that the rest of us suburbanites and urbanites usually dole out to freshly built neighborhood McMansions.


In her backyard box, she would rather have a screech owl, she writes, because they provide a natural containment for her property's rat problems, owing to the predator-prey relationship between the two.

So when a squirrel moved in instead, it was as strong a case of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) as one might see at a town hall public hearing when a developer proposes a big box superstore where a Little League field had once been. (Not only was this a common rodent but a somewhat corpulent one, making a strong case for a potential lawsuit based on Species Discrimination and Fat Discrimination.)

Do squirrels make bad neighbors? Other than the occasional tomato-plant thievery (so what? Plant a little extra and solve the problem), other than the more-than-occasional bird-feeder raiding (so what, again? Add a second or third feeder, or a platform feeder and enjoy the acrobatics), why fight nature? Unlike the guy next door whose teenaged kids hold pool parties, a squirrel won't blare his stereo until all hours or allow other squirrels' cars to block your driveway when they come to visit. The squirrels' kids also are off and on their own after 14 weeks - not 18 years (or longer). Best of all, if you are lucky enough, the squirrels will bury seeds and nuts that, in years to come, might just save you the cost of hiring a landscaper to do some plantings.

With apologies to Robert Frost who, I presume and hope, was a squirrel lover too, the bottom line is this: Good squirrels make good neighbors.


Cactus Jack Splash said...

Maybe she should put up housing for the owl and the squirrels.

WatchfulEye said...

Sounds like the screech owl just didn't want to live there. There ARE other places the owl might have preferred. Don't blame it on the squirrel...

squirrelmama said...

Cactus Jack, I like your thinking, completely!
WatchfulEye, I couldn't agree more. Sometimes the squirrel gets the housing by default.

Anonymous said...

Squirrels are agile and clever, and thus are natural enemies to folks who rather have those traits themselves.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good squirrels make good neighbors. I'd miss them.