The Squirrel Menace

In our garden squirrels are a serious problem. Their worst offense is grabbing avocados off our tree, taking a few small bites and then dropping them on the ground for our Doberman to finish off. This year only five avocados made it into the kitchen. Today’s New York Times has just about the only effective solution. Anyone for squirrel tacos with guacamole?

“With literally millions of squirrels rampaging throughout England, Scotland and Wales at any given time, squirrels need to be controlled by culls. This means that hunters, gamekeepers, trappers and the Forestry Commission (the British equivalent of forest rangers) provide a regular supply of the meat to British butchers, restaurants, pâté and pasty makers and so forth.

The situation is more than simply a matter of having too many squirrels. In fact, there is a war raging in Squirreltown: invading interlopers (gray squirrels introduced from North America over the past century or more) are crowding out a British icon, the indigenous red squirrel immortalized by Beatrix Potter and cherished by generations since. The grays take over the reds’ habitat, eat voraciously and harbor a virus named squirrel parapox (harmless to humans) that does not harm grays but can devastate reds. (Reports indicate, though, that the reds are developing resistance.)”

Two tangents here:

1. Please note the dapper gamekeeper photographed for the story. Here at Homegrown Evolution we think it’s about time the work clothes with tie look, such as this gamekeeper’s traditional hunting attire, makes a comeback. No more walking around in pajamas!

2. We’ve got another excuse to replay this old video:

Thanks to neighbor Lora Hall for the link to the New York Times story!

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29 Comments

  1. Okay, that video was a riot on several levels. I especially love the easy listening, dentist office piano music and her sign-off: “Squirrel Melts. You must try them.”

  2. The squirrels around here have been eating a lot of garbage since there were no acorns this year. I’m not sure they’d taste very good. Also, the only thing that really bothered me about this video is that the squirrels go from dead animal to ready-to-cook meat in the blink of an eye with no real appreciation or explanation of what happened in between.

  3. Funny…”you know how squirrels love nuts”…But it does seem like it would taste good , and having children bring home food is a wonderful experience for

  4. We don’t eat the squirrels we trap, but we trapped about 25 grund squirrels last year and tossed them out on the flood control channel for coyotes.
    We use the “swiming pool of death” method, found on gardenweb.com . Put a watertight trashcan near where they are feeding and fill it halfway full of water. Use peanut butter to stick tasty treats (whatever your squirrels seem to like) around the rim and then on the sides leading down to the water. The squirrels will eat the higher ones first, then keep reaching for lower ones until they fall in and drown. It is legal to kill ground squirrels in California, they are an invasive pest.
    Initially I didn’t have the stomach to watch the process. Now when I see we’ve got one, I use a garden tool to submerge them and hasten the process (some of them can swim!) It sounds awful, but it’s much more human than poison, which besides causing a painful death can work its way up the food chain and reduce predator populations.

  5. Squirrel is delicious, no kidding! My husband has shot 74 so far this hunting season. We even wrote an article for Backwoods Home magazine about it. Honestly, it tastes extremely similar to chicken. I don’t like that she doesn’t show how to skin them, or more importantly to remove the scent gland, which can make them taste funny. Plus, we submerge them in salty water over night to help with the flavor and tenderizing.

  6. I am not so sure I would eat urban squirrels, especially not knowing what their diet is like. I’m thinking if they eat a high proportion of garbage, it would come through in the taste.

    I do, however, have a few squirrels in the freezer that I killed earlier this season. It’s not really much different from eating rabbit.

  7. It’s interesting to note that your non-native avocado nibbling fox squirrels are direct descendants from the first generation that arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1900s. The critters were brought here by aging vets of the Civil and Spanish-American wars when they relocated from the Mississippi Valley and points further east. Where the invasion all began was the old Sawtelle Veterans Home off of Wilshire and Sepulveda.

    In the century since, fox squirrels extended across the Santa Monica Mountains into the San Fernando and Simi valleys. Fox squirrels are also now found in the Palos Verdes peninsula and Long Beach, and deep into the San Gabriel Valley.

    And all over my neighborhood where they have no avocados handy to bite and dump, but go crazy importing half-eaten persimmons from a neighboring tree.

  8. We tried our first truly “free range” rabbit the other week but I’ve never tried squirrel. Can’t say I haven’t jokingly thought about it though, we had similar luck with the little rascals this year. They sampled more than a little of almost every crop we grew. I found it pretty odd to seem them go at the pumpkins. I have to admit though, it made me laugh to see them shoot out of one as I walked by.

  9. I’ve always thought of squirrels as the reason God gave us .410 shotguns. I am not a fan of squirrels at all, everything negative said about them above is true. They also have a potty-mouth. It’s too bad your doberman doesn’t eat the squirrel and leave the nibble avocado to you – that’s what we have; the dogs don’t touch the avos and the squirrels only take an itsy bitsy bit. The sad part is when they hit a human or a dog with a hard avocado!

  10. I have a friend in urban Denver who asked me about eating squirrels from the city. Didn’t know how to answer.

    Are they safe? Do they have more diseases? Do they taste as good as rural squirrel?

  11. I think you guys are all SICK!!!! Anyone who enjoys watching another life drown and even submerges them further with a garden tool, is a SICK F^$K!!!! All life on earth is precious, no matter what it is. They are just looking for food to SURVIVE!!! What is wrong with you.

  12. Everyone talks about wild animals as SUCH a nuissance. My poor garden……they try and steal garbage out of my trash….. poor little whiny, f’ing babies!!!!!! Try living outside…..every day…..in the elements…..not being able to freely move around because there are predators after you everywhere you turn!!!!! Then, you see a trash can with old food in it and try to get a little for you and your babies, and next thing you know, someone is trying to KILL YOU!!! There are lots of ways to “deter” squirrels and other wildlife from encroaching your space. Lots of HUMANE ways!!!!! But, I guess for the sick-minded F%#C@S out there, it’s so much “easier” to just DROWN them. Which, by the way, is not THAT much better a way to die than being poisoned. Have you ever drown or heard people on TV talking about near-drowning experiences. It’s one of the worst ways to die you MORON!!!!!!!!!

  13. @anonymous 11:16 AM – or, the CA resident who thinks its legal to torture wild animals: Drowning squirrels is not legal, whatever you’ve told yourself. You are a sick human being. CA grey squirrels are not pests, unless you are a commercial farmer, which I doubt. They’ve also been here longer than you, I’m sure – and you won’t eradicate them from you precious backyard orange tree that you bought from Home Depot, because more will come, providing you with and endless population of small animals to torture. You are the interloping problem. Go back to whatever midwestern state your family came from during the dust bowl that kills animals for no reason and without conscience.

    I have no beef with necessary animal control to protect endemic species – I work on a preserve. This does not include killing critters to protect some ridiculous threat to a clean driveway and general suburban way of life.

    I have no beef with people hunting for food, and choosing abundant squirrel populations, if you have the stomach for it. But cruelly killing animals by setting up elaborate Rube Goldberg traps, like this person’s “swimming pool of death” is something that disturbed little children do with slugs because they are not well adjusted enough to ride a bike instead.

  14. &anonymous 9:53PM – Really? Peanut butter and plaster of paris? Get yourself some snuff films.

    Pelenaka & Gardenmaster. You people need help as well. If you want to eat them, have at it. If you want to protect your crop – try throwing some bird block netting around selected branches. If you are just having fun, getting off killing little non-threatening things, get professional help.

    Squirrels are the protagonists around here. They make my garden worth having. They are one of the few animals that can cope with urban sprawl and they are welcome. We’ve worked out a crop sharing system, which I would suggest to any reasonable people reading this page – I get the early crop and feed them the leftovers. Occasionally they will excavate something I’ve planted, but there are a million better ways to stop them, if I thought I would go hungry over it. I don’t need to cement their mouths shut to fulfill my perfect suburban planning dreams.

    And BTW, they only discard the crappy out of season pecans and avocados that you wouldn’t have like anyway.

    Have fun enjoying your respective gardens. There will be a spit in Hades waiting for you haters when it’s over.

  15. @Tina, your patio garden failed because you are in Brooklyn – where a near complete lack of trees and animals makes the use of the word ‘garden’ questionable. Leave the squirrels out of it.

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