Vexatious Arboreal Rodents

“Vexatious Arboreal Rodents”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


 Annoying squirrels! 

Squirrels can be so cute with their wily antics, but other times they can be so aggravating.  We all have pretty much experienced marauding squirrels on our bird feeders.  We have had them chew through the plastic that surrounds the birdfeeder’s seed slots, and we have even had them chew the bee guards on the hummingbird feeders.  A few people report that squirrels take up residence in their attics, especially during the winter.  This year, they have chewed the new banana sprouts that are just emerging in our garden.  Goodness knows, they are getting enough of our seeds to satisfy their hunger.

Then why did they have to chew on and ruin two of my best hanging baskets?  Yesterday I noticed one of the baskets sitting on the ground under the tree instead of hanging in the tree.  As I walked over, thinking the wind must have been responsible for the basket falling, I suddenly saw that the hook part had been chewed.  I picked it up with the intention of replacing it back on the tree branch when I realized that it had been chewed so much that the hook was very weak and couldn’t support the basket.  I checked the next basket that still was in the tree and saw that it, too, had been chewed, just not as much.  These baskets were hanging on hooks, so this means the squirrels had to stretch out to chew on them.  Why?  Why would squirrels chew on plastic?




I ended up throwing the worse one of the two baskets away, and moved the other one (hoping to save it).  The reason I am so annoyed by this is that I only like green hanging baskets, and they are getting hard to find.  I think the green blends in better with the plants than a bright color does.  I also like the plastic ones, because in the summer they do not dry out as fast in our heat.

I still can’t figure out why they would just chew on the plastic.  Could they be teething?


  1. Jean said,

    February 26, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I do know that squirrels like (need?) to sharpen their teeth. I’ve seen them do that on rocks (of all things) as well as tree bark, which can decimate the tree. I have chewed up plastic covers on my sprinkler system which I’m 99% sure were done by squirrels. Love the title of your post – it says it all!

  2. February 27, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Yeah, we have a few of those ‘cute’ squirrels! They are called squirrels or our favorite ‘mamma” until they dig up and scatter my carrot seeds when I’m on the last stretch of waiting for them to germinate! Then I call them ‘tree rats’ 🙂

  3. andré said,

    February 27, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Cute but annoying- that’s squirrels! 🙂

  4. February 27, 2009 at 3:39 am

    LOL, always teething, Jan! They take their inspiration from Always Growing, maybe? Seriously though, I know they’re annoying. We don’t have much problem with them at home. Here at the Bed and Breakfast I stay at in Liverpool, they have a flying squirrel and he’s just too cute for words.

  5. tina said,

    February 27, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Maybe teething. What a bunch of damage they did! Hate these critters.

  6. Ginger said,

    February 27, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I’ve been complaining about them at my blog, too! They do seem less destructive now that I’ve started giving them their own food (sunflower seed in an empty birdbath). Good luck!

  7. Jon said,

    February 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I agree with what a nuisance squirrels can be in the yard and down right destructive. Several years ago I regretfully but finally gave up putting out bird seed which was attracting mainly squirrels here to eat and then go on a rampage. Problem solved. No more squirrels and no more damage. We have several acres of woods with wild pecan trees and lots of stuff for birds and squirrels to eat and fend for themselves. I laughed when our famous Jackson horticulturalist, Felder Rushing, called them “tree rats” because they are such pests, and I agree with him. I don’t miss the squirrels in the yard one bit.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  8. Brenda Kula said,

    February 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    The squirrels are driving Charlie Ross crazy. Robert found a dead squirrel who had been residing in what was a brick wall and is now a French door months ago. I’m hoping they stay out of my attic for awhile. They chew through our TV cable lines and we have to have them replaced. Cute, but obnoxious.

  9. linda said,

    February 27, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Arggg! The varmints! They dig up newly-planted things in my garden all the time. They drive me crazy! We have at least 5 squirrel’s nests in our trees, and there will be more in the spring. They are cute though, and as much as I hate the damage they do, I have to admit I enjoy watching their playful antics.

    I haven’t found that not feeding will make them go away. What I have found this winter is that feeding them does help keep them from making as much mischief in the garden, although I’m not sure it would have prevented them chewing on your baskets. Squirrels’ teeth, like all rodents, grow continuously, and they chew on stuff to wear their teeth down when they get too long.

  10. Jan said,

    February 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Jean, I remembered reading that squirrels can eat lead statues that are very popular in England. The pictures showed deformed little statues of foxes and even squirrels. If they will eat lead, they’ll eat anything.

    Tessa, a lot of people call them “tree rats.” Dear hubby fights a losing battle with them over the bird feeders.

    Andre, you are right that they are cute, but can be very annoying at times.

    Jodi, we have flying squirrels, too, but they are nocturnal so we can hear them but have only seen one in all the years we have lived here. If we could only train the squirrels to stay away from feeders and not gnaw on things, I think they would be perfect. I don’t mind when they eat the pine cones.

    Tina, yes, they can do some damage. I am not happy when the acorns they plant start sprouting all over the garden.

    Ginger, we too, have an area where we leave some food, and they have pretty much started leaving the birdfeeders alone though the squirrel baffles probably are helping. At least they are not gnawing on the house. Yet.

    Jon, I wish we did have woods around us because then we might do as you did. We do enjoy having the birds, so we will just have to keep on with battling the squirrels.

    Brenda, chewing through the cable TV lines? That would be very annoying. My sister-in-law had a squirrel living in her attic, and it took a long time to finally get rid of it.

    Linda, I guess the reason they are gnawing on all the plastic is to wear their teeth down. I wish I could find something to leave around for this so they wouldn’t eat the plastic baskets.

  11. Sherry said,

    February 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Jan, sorry about your hanging baskets, the green ones are getting hard to find here also. I know what you mean about the squirrels being annoying! I’ve recently made posts about them as well, and just last week, watched one gnawing on a wooden birdfeeder here. They’ve ruined a couple of my birdfeeders, including a brand new thistle feeder I had just put out… not to mention the bulbs they dig up out of the flower beds. They are cute, but can definitely be annoying!

  12. March 1, 2009 at 12:18 am

    That reminds me- we finally found a squirrel resistant bird feeder. We purchased it at our local Fred Meyer store. It works by closing if something too heavy is on it. When we first got it, those squirrels were hilarious to watch as they tried time and time again to get at the food. They finally gave up and now everyone has their own food.

  13. Paul said,

    April 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I have four cute squirrels running around the trees at the bottm of my garden. However, the two siblings have taken a liking to my neighbours lead flashing on their conservatory ! The theory of teeth sharpening may be right, as the guttering is full of lead shot. Perhaps they are eating it as ballast to help them jump from branch to branch !?!?!

    • Jan said,

      April 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

      Yes, Paul, it just may be what they need to keep them from flying too high when they leap. lol. I feel sorry for your neighbors though.

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