Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where there's a will, there's... teeth that gnaw through plastic?

A few years ago we started storing some of our bird seed in plastic containers right up on the deck, close to the feeders. We keep a tub of the all-purpose blend and a tub of nyjer just outside the patio door, with both of those tubs within this other nifty plastic thing that is kind of like a stool, but also opens up to double as a storage bin. This year the squirrels started to gnaw bits of plastic out of that bin like something out of the Shawshank Redemption. Except they weren't nearly as neat about it or as sneaky about it as Tim Robbins' character. We knew what they were up to all along. We knew that one day the inevitable would happen...

... and that they would gnaw their way right through to the seed.

As I mentioned in a recent post, the trees are not producing many nuts this year, so the squirrels are relying heavily on a food source they know they can count on: that nice couple who lives in the woods and thinks they are feeding the birds! Can you say "free handout?" If the gray squirrels don't drain the feeders during the day, the flying squirrels will wrap it up at night. We put corn out for them, but more often than not it's passed over for the seed.

Squirrels are silly and funny, but don't let anyone tell you they're dumb. They knew which tub contained the seed they eat (as opposed to the tub of nyjer), and they knew which side of the bin contained that tub.

The detritus of their destruction, scattered among the leaves on the deck.

Until we were able to come up with a less chewable container, we attempted to block their access with a brick. The squirrels laughed and shrugged at this attempt.

While we didn't actually witness it, they did manage to remove the brick one afternoon. By the way, sorry for the poor quality photos. It wasn't very light out yet when I took these, and I was shooting through a (ahem) dirty glass door.

"You in there! What is the meaning of this brick?!"

"I do not appreciate your tomfoolery and attempts to outwit me. That's right, I'm talkin' to YOU!!!!"

"You know I'm agile like a monkey, right?"

"And I have teeth like ginsu knife, so I'll just start enlarging the hole down below your stupid brick!"

We have since purchased a locking 10-gallon galvanized steel can for storing the seed. That should hold 'em off for a while. I hope.


carol said...

Heather, you had me giggling with this post. Oh my god those critters are so clever. Love this post. Carol

Kristen said...

That's hilarious! I've considered doing the exact same thing, with one of those plastic storage benches to keep the seed in to keep it from spilling as i'm carrying it from the garage through the house to the deck feeders... we've got raccoons and squirrels up there, so it doesn't look like a good idea :) we're going to get baffles to try on the 4x4 posts under the deck to keep the raccoons off, but i still don't think i'll chance keeping the seed out there :)

Kelly said...

hahaha! They've done the same thing to us over the years. Last time, I bought these "vaults" that were supposed to be squirrel and raccoon safe, but the raccoons had gnawed through them in two nights!! Now...everything is in the garage. We tried the steel cans, but the raccoons were able to get the lid off.

Nature As Is said...

Oh what a wonderful post..very entertaining Heather thank you for that. I think the steal will hold them off my dear. Unless they have super powers I'm sure they won't get though it. :)

Monika said...

You're such a great story-teller! Funny stuff. :)

Heather said...

Carol - Thanks! Clever, mischievous... so many words to describe them!

Kristen - Good luck with the baffles. We've tried baffles to keep the squirrels out, but it's just a lost cause because there are too many trees that give them access to the feeders!

Kelly - Luckily the raccoons haven't come to visit our house yet. I'm fearful that once we are completely dogless they might start coming in, but for now we're just trying to keep up with the rodents.

Crista - I hope the metal can will keep them out of the seed, but I really wouldn't be surprised if they figure out a way to defeat it eventually!

Monika - Aw, thanks. The squirrels' antics really do make for some good story telling.

Ginnymo said...

Yep! Those squirrels sure are clever!! I love this post!! But then you probably know I have lots of squirrels around here... I am so afraid of what might happen when I have to be in the hospital for a week though. They might chew all the new vinyl windows. I'm going to try and get a woman upstairs to feed them every day from my window. They can get very destructive when they want you have found out..

Heather said...

Ginny - You probably know squirrel behavior better than any of us, so I'm sure this isn't news to you. I sure hope they don't chew at your windows while you're gone - that would be very bad of them. Take care.

RuthieJ said...

I loved your photos and captions Heather. It's a good lesson showing the amazing abilities of hungry squirrels.

Heather said...

Ruthie - Thank you. We were gone for a few days recently and they chewed their way into a different plastic pail (this one contained the cob corn that we put out for them). They haven't busted their way through the steel can yet, thankfully.