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This squirrel is expecting…trouble

May 16, 2016

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This morning (May 16), I was biking a trailer-load of returnable beverage containers to a recycling depot in East Vancouver, when I came across possibly the squirreliest squirrel I have ever encountered.

Approaching Ash street (and thus nearing Cambie) through the alley between 16th and 17th Avenue, I began to hear a little high-pitched squeeing sound, repeated like a bird call but definitely not being made by a bird.

The repetitive sound that I heard was coming from a fat little brown squirrel perched on the eaves of the peaked roof of a house on Tupper Street. And I don’t mean a happy squirrel either.

Its eyes were wide with alarm and its tail was stiff as a bottle brush.

Giving everyone a roof reception

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The squirrel didn’t move an inch. I got off my bike and approached. But no matter how close I came to it under the eaves, it didn’t bolt (like you’d expect a squirrel to). It just sat like a gargoyle, repeatedly calling out “Squee! Squee! Squee!”

Because it didn’t move I assumed that it couldn’t—that it had gotten itself stuck in the eaves trough and was calling out in distress.

The owner of the house was at home and answered my knock on the door promptly.

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Yes, he said, he knew all about the squirrel on the roof. Pest control was on the way and no, the squirrel wasn’t stuck in the eaves trough.

She was pregnant.

After the home owner assured me that the squirrel would come to no harm and be safely and humanely relocated, I let him go about his business, which involved taking his dog for a walk. I went back to watching the squirrel.

In my absence, she had moved and was now perched atop the eaves trough at the front corner of the roof overhang—about as close as she could get, roof-wise, to where the homeowner and I had held our conversation.

So the pregnant squirrel was protecting territory that she had staked a claim to. The sound she was making was a warning to ward off anyone or anything that got too close.

As my understanding was that squirrels preferred to build their dens in trees—rather than on exposed roof tops—I wondered if, in fact, the squirrel did have her den in a tree. And that this tree just happened to be close enough to the roof that the squirrel felt the need to treat the shingled expanse as part of her “sphere of influence“.

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Certainly, her unilateral annexation of the roof would be short-lived. Hopefully the homeowner’s word was good and the same wouldn’t be said of her.

Poor little squirrel. She was doing the right thing, she was just doing it in the wrong place.

In any event, I only worried about her being hurt. Who ever heard of squirrels actually attacking people?

Meanwhile, all over Vancouver, crows are likewise looking to protect their young and they are attacking people. Check out the CrowTrax map to see the latest hotspots for acts of corvid aggression. Click the images to enlarge them.

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