Tonight at 8 p.m. the FOX network will air what is sure to be an hour of first-rate television: “When Animals Invade Your Home.” But for a number of students, the stories of surprising snakes and unwelcome mice may ring too true. They’ve been dealing with an animal torment of their own: squirrels.
Sure, they’re cute when they run across Old Campus, but what if you woke up in the middle of the night to find them scratching at the window, or came back from break to find squirrel excrement on your rug, or came back from class to find a squirrel had been raising a family– in your pillow?
Students have been confronting these menacing problems all year, and — yes — they’ve lived to tell the tale.
Squirrels most often enter student rooms through open windows. With the mild winter this year, open windows have not been hard to find. A particular sore spot was Vanderbilt Hall, which squirrels often entered through open skylights. But after a number of complaints, Yale’s pest control team covered the skylights with screens.
But in one Durfee Hall room, the squirrels didn’t need a window to get through. A squirrel burrowed its way through the window frame.
“Did you even realize that squirrels could tunnel? This is totally new to me,” said Morse College freshman counselor Joshua Berman ’02, whose room has become host to squirrels on a near-daily basis.
The squirrels first found Berman’s room over Spring Break, when one of his suitemates left a bag of peanuts in their common room and the window ajar. When the suite returned from break, there were peanut shells everywhere. The culprit was obvious.
“If I had any food in here, I’d have squirrels in here every day,” Berman said.
But that wouldn’t be such a problem for Berman; he said he doesn’t mind the squirrels. Eventually he might.
“They ate parts of our chairs and part of a pillow,” Berman said.
Alexis Slater ’03 was not quite as appreciative of sharing her Vanderbilt suite with squirrels.
When she returned from class one day last month, she found a squirrel running around her room. Not knowing what else to do, she called the Yale Police. The dispatcher said he would send an animal control officer. Then Slater said she noticed her pillow was torn up. She lifted it up and discovered two baby squirrels under the pillow.
When she called the police back, they didn’t quite believe her. The animal control officer who showed up didn’t quite understand it, either. He said squirrels don’t normally have babies in March.
“I learned a lot about squirrels that day,” Slater said.
And then there were the ones that got away.
Julie Papanek ’05 said her Welch Hall suite has faced off with the dreaded squirrels for months. When the women returned from Winter Break, they found that a squirrel had entered through a skylight, used their suite as a bathroom, and run through their clothes — before beating a hasty retreat.
The squirrels continue to come back whenever the weather warms up and the women open their windows. Papanek is of a mixed mind about the creatures.
“It was pretty irritating,” she said. “For some reason or another, it’s like a pet.”