Monday, 30 July 2012

Arms Race

In the garden, my nemesis is Bubba the squirrel. Bubba has been the bane of my life with respect to gardening since we moved in. I imagine we're on the second or third iteration of Bubba, but suffice to say, it's been war.

I love feeding the theropod dinosaurs in the garden, and have had feeders up for some time:

Bubba quickly got to grips with the feeders and started chewing away at the plastic to get at the seed. While I have a number of students who are a bit nifty with an air rifle (or perhaps an SA80!), I was reliably informed that at the sort of range I was looking at, I'd end up with a thin layer of pulverised squirrel goo all over the garden. And that would probably attract foxes.

So it was on to chemical warfare. The RSPB advice is that squirrels cannot tolerate the taste of chilli powder, but that birds cannot taste it. So I duly added copious amounts of chilli powder to my mixes. And that worked for about five months.

Until I saw this:

Little fucker. That used to be a feeder full of spicy sunflower hearts. And Bubba had ripped a hole right down the side of the feeder. Perhaps the chilli had blown or been washed away - we've had some rain recently. No - I checked the strength of the chilli powder using the most powerful test known to man: I got some in my eye. It was still pretty damn capsaicin-y.

The chilli alone doesn't seem to be doing it anymore - whatever generation of Bubba we're on may well have a selective advantage in being unaffected by the chilli. Maybe they got lucky with a mutation leaving them with no taste buds at all.

So it was time to break out the big guns. Die-cast aluminium feeders. Let's see the bastard chew through them.

The lid also has a larger overhang than the crappy plastic ones, which might foil Bubba's tactic of dangling from the tree by its hind legs. And of course, MOAR CHILLI POWDER! I wonder what the LD-50 is for chilli in small mammals...


  1. I dunno about using 5.56mm rounds on a squirrel; chances are it'll quite literally burst, like shooting a melon. Although I'd wager the pigeons'll have it before foxes do - they'll pick the kebab out of sick!

    Pellet gun shouldn't blow it up though, it's just not got the power. Pellet gun should work just fine. If you're not convinced by this then you might consider a small crossbow instead. I used one once to defend my cat against a somewhat skinny fox and it worked a treat.

    1. You realise that this is just going to give Paul ideas about finally purchasing a crossbow...

    2. Since when does any man shy of thirty five need anything but the very feeblest of excuses to buy a crossbow?

    3. This is true. He's already trawling the internet for one.

    4. Meanwhile Isleworth is trawling the internet for kevlar helmets, I don't doubt :p

      In other news: this morning I woke up with a schema in my head for a garden bench, all nicely measured, right materials...

      To cut a long story short, the varnish is drying as we type. The garden is taking shape.

  2. Next time, coat the seeds in this stuff:

    And no need to go to a need a nice Wrist Rocket slingshot and some pebbles.

    1. Or you can call out the nuclear option - 16 million SHU pure capsaicin's on that same Hot Sauce page I linked to.

    2. Aye but if you accidentally rub that in your eyes you'll go blind, and quite possibly deaf as well.

    3. I have a horrible feeling that if Bubba can cope with chilli-powder-coated seeds he can probably cope with anything. He's a mutant squirrel.

      In the meantime, I've managed to get chilli in my eyes AND cut my chin on one of the feeders...

    4. Chili powder is really mild comparatively - only a few thousand SHU's. You want something in the multiple 10's of thousands or hundreds of thousands SHU range to have any kind of effect.


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