Lowcountry's No. 1 export: Squirrel 'eruptions'

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 18, 2012 

Put this one in your "It Could Be Worse" file.

Vermont is experiencing a squirrel explosion.

Associated Press writer Wilson Ring reports: "The squirrels wait until (the) apple crop is nearly ripe to swarm into the trees from nearby forests, sometimes eating half a tree's fruit in two or three hours. Sometimes, the squirrels will take only one bite, but the teeth marks make the apples worthless for retail sale."

They also eat bands of bark from tree trunks, causing the trees to die.

The plague of squirrels follows two seasons of bountiful acorn and beechnut crops and last year's mild winter.

"Biologists know squirrel populations have rare but periodic 'eruptions,' when conditions coincide to produce abundant foods that fuel the fast-reproducing animals," the story says.

We have enough fruits and nuts in the Lowcountry to attract binders full of squirrels.

But if we were to have an official squirrel "eruption," how would we know?

The Lowcountry is in a perpetual state of squirrel eruption.

Squirrels erupt in my attic, where I chase them with a crab net, and in my chimney, where I have yanked out their stiff carcasses with Vise-Grips.

Some otherwise rational people have told me they trap squirrels in their yard -- and remove them to a park.

Sane people have been known to pull out powerful firearms, and get tickets for firing them into trees, simply because they didn't like squirrels eating the skylights off their roof, or the PVC Schedule 40 pipes that stick out of the attic.

Local firefighters have found squirrel teeth embedded in electrical wires that caused a house fire.

Joe Maffo, owner of Critter Management on Hilton Head Island, says his calls to remove squirrels from attics and walls are "way, way over what it would normally be."

He said it's because we haven't had a deep freeze in several years.

Meanwhile, when was the last time you had squirrel stew? We can't shoot them around here, and in today's Lowcountry, the closest we get to eating off the yard is grilling a Bubba Burger.

We accommodate squirrels in every way we can imagine. We faithfully put bird seed out for them every day. We never cut down trees. We have useless dogs that act like they'll tear a squirrel limb from limb, but in reality can't even catch a tennis ball. We put metal gutters around our houses to give the squirrels teething rings.

And what thanks do we get?

The rare story from Vermont that makes us think it could be worse.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

Related content:

Squirrel population boom frustrates fruit growers

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