Squirrel Proofing Your Home & Garden, by Rhonda Massingham Hart
Despite the fact that squirrels can be somewhat annoying creatures, I must admit that I have generally been fond of squirrels because I appreciate their antics . Nevertheless, squirrels are animals that have a lot of serious concerns in the modern world. They are resourceful and clever animals that compete with birds for food (and often eat eggs), and make their homes in trees and gardens, and that find both hazards and opportunities in human structures. This book, it should be noted, also talks about squirrels in the broad sense rather than in the narrow sense, meaning that this book also discusses flying squirrels, chipmunks and ground squirrels, as well as groundhogs and prairie dogs, not all of which are generally figured as squirrels in the popular consciousness. Also, as a humorous aside, this book earned some goodwill because it discussed the place where I first learned about the way that squirrels easily become familiar with humans and their generosity, namely the University of South Florida, from which I have plenty of my own squirrel encounter stories, like many other people I imagine. This book was likely written with that sort of situation in mind.
The book as a whole is a pretty short one of about 150 pages or so. The author begins the book by introducing a look at the world from the perspective of the squirrel, not something that many people consider, I think. After that there is a short statement about how much in control squirrels are (1) along with a lesson on squirreldom (2). The author generally maintains a humorous perspective on squirrels’ possessiveness towards anything connected to their trees, like bird feeders, and the cleverness and playfulness of the animals. A considerable amount of time is spent identifying squirrels, their habitat and what good they do for the environment (3). After this the author discusses the damage that squirrels do to trees, bird feeders, and homes through their exploration and settlement and scrounging (4). The author gives some very specific and highly creative tips on how people can defend their bird feeders from squirrel depredations (5) while also including some tips on how people can protect their house and garden as well (6). Finally, the author provides some clever and even ingenious designs on how one can squirrel proof not only by response but by design (7), after which the book closes with some resources and an index.
Overall, this book is entertaining. The author manages a difficult balancing act between showing a great deal of humor as well as a certain degree of respect for squirrels and their capabilities on the one hand as well as forthright statements on the harm that squirrels can do that tends to lead some people at least to view them as very irritating pests. As is common in life, the extent to which the antics or irritations of squirrels predominates in the mind of others varies across a wide area. Being sympathetic towards concerns about overcrowding, the way that squirrels tend to be rather sensitive animals who can respond badly to being trapped and relocated, and the playfulness of animals whose attitude amuses me, I tend to among those who are rather understanding and not prone to viewing squirrels or other small woodland animals as ferocious enemies. On the other hand, many people are less sympathetic about the plight of small and fierce woodland animals and do not find their antics particularly amusing at all, and those are the people who are likely to view this book in the most grimly serious fashion.
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