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Old June 6, 2007, 01:35 PM   #1
Mike U.
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Have you ever noticed?

I live in a neighborhood that is infested with tree rats. Since I moved here it's been a running battle to keep these varmints from digging up my bulbs, chewing into my attic and killing my Camphor trees by girdling the bark on them. I can't seem to kill them fast enough. One shot, one kill is the SOP here.

I've noticed lately that when I'm outside I see these pests scurrying thru the trees, eating the nuts of my palm trees, burying acorns in my yard and just going about their business. However, if I go out into the yard with a rake in my hand or a broom or even a cane, all I see is tree rats hauling ass for cover at full tilt as if their butts had been wiped with Cayenne Pepper Sauce.

Since when did squirrels become smart enough to associate a stick with a rifle?

Has anyone ever noticed this behaviour with their resident pests?

Now, please keep in mind I'm not a hunter in the strictest sense of the word. I don't hunt for food or sport so my knowledge of game animal habits is kind of limited.

Last edited by Mike U.; June 6, 2007 at 01:41 PM. Reason: adding a thought
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Old June 6, 2007, 02:06 PM   #2
FirstFreedom
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Oh they're smart all right. All wild animals have an uncanny knack for learning to stay alive by watching what goes on around them. Whether it's them "thinking" or a more simple instinctual type of learning matters not. They learn. My neighbor traps 50-100 a year from his pecan trees, and he goes and lets them go out in the country instead of killing them. Evidently, they do NOT learn to stay out of the traps for some reason.
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Old June 6, 2007, 02:30 PM   #3
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Tree rats learn just like other animals. That's why I have flocks of turkeys that'll walk right under a deer stand that I hunt from during deer season (while they look at me and gobble). But the first day of turkey hunting season (and especially the second day) those turkeys become very shy!
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Old June 6, 2007, 02:39 PM   #4
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There's a guy in upstate NY who noticed that although the deer population in his area hasn't decreased (if anything it's increased) there has been a notable decrease in deer hit by cars in his area. He's currently doing a scientific study to see if that observation is accurate and then he's going to try and figure out if it's a case of darwinian forces (the deer that avoid the road survivie to pass on genes) or learning forces (deer are learning that road=bad and teaching their offspring the same).

If I can find the article again I'll post a link.

There was also a story about a man hunting some type of crow and in the process discovering that the crows could count to three because he'd go into his blind and the crows would flee until he left. So he went in with a pal and the crows fled until they BOTH left. And so on until there were four men and when three left the crows came back and the remaining fourth person could shoot them.
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Old June 6, 2007, 02:46 PM   #5
MCCALL911
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I have also noticed about deer...

I'm not being facetious when I say this, but late one night a few years back I saw a buck standing on the side of the road. (I live in a semi-rural area.) He seemed to be waiting for my car to pass before he crossed the road. Honest to goodness!

(And, no, I wasn't drinking! )

At any rate, I think deer are beginning to wise up, if you will, about the dangers of vehicles.
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Old June 6, 2007, 04:21 PM   #6
Jseime
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Yes and no.

Some things seem to be quite smart about it and others not so much. I've been told that if a coyote comes to a call he will never come to that same call again you have to switch calls from time to time.

The other day I was at an Oil lease stripping some old insulation and there was a gopher that was annoying me. I was twenty feet away throwing rocks at him and he didnt catch on for a couple minutes.
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Old June 6, 2007, 05:30 PM   #7
FirstFreedom
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You were throwing rocks at the gopher, yet it was HE that was annoying YOU?
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Old June 6, 2007, 05:41 PM   #8
Mike U.
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FF,

LMAO!!
--------------------------


This is amazing.

I guess I didn't give'em enough credit.

I've found it hard to attribute even rudimentary intellingence to an animal that will run out in front of a speeding car and stop dead in the car's path to decide which way to run while it's getting plowed under.
Now, there's an example of Natural Selection in action.

Now, I'm gonna have to alter my tactics.
Hmmm...may have to get a new rifle with the Mossy Oak treatment.
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Old June 6, 2007, 07:24 PM   #9
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A dude named Ivan Pavlov did a study. You may have studied this elementary psychology before. He showed that by showing a dog a red light prior to feeding the dog that the dog learned that the light means food is coming eventually.
Pavlov's salivating dog theory applies here. A squirrel sees a human with a stick like object and shortly thereafter a bang produces a dead relative or a pain in his own hide.
He aint salivating, he is grabbing some getlost. Animals learn by experience just like we higher form of animal.
I used to hunt in Grayson County Texas that never has a firearm season. A mature whitetail doe would come walking down a trail and spot corn on the ground and immediately she would go to alert and throw her head up and look around in the trees. Is this because she is looking for that amazing corn tree or has she learned that corn=danger in a treestand. I can do the math on that one.

You should see some of the mind benders they show squirrels going thru to get to feeders. They assess the situation and form a plan to get to that feeder.

Some people never learn that smart mouth can = fat lip. All animals have some that are smarter than others.
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Old June 6, 2007, 10:08 PM   #10
skeeter1
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Quote:
Has anyone ever noticed this behaviour with their resident pests?
Yes, I have. Bushy-tailed rats also have an uncanny ability to keep a big fat tree between you and them. I've sometimes been able to flush them out by throwing a branch or rock beyond the side of the tree where they're hiding. Somtimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you're quiet and patient, they'll usually move up to a hozontal tree branch, and then my .22 takes care of the problem.
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Old June 7, 2007, 12:12 AM   #11
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sit still and it takes about 7 minutes or 30 minutes (somthing like that) for nature to forget about you. Sit still and they come back out. Then a .22 to the head and you have meat and a hide and tail for flys
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Old June 7, 2007, 01:21 AM   #12
mrawesome22
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You think the squirrels are smart?

The racoons are so smart that you've never seen them LOL.

If you were a hunter you would love squirrels. They are a blast to watch while bow hunting. They chase each other around, play cat and mouse.

They are entertaining as all get out when you're in a treestand with nothing else to look at.

They also serve a great purpose. They are omnivours. Not herbivours like the anti's would love you to believe. They eat insects that would destroy my beloved hardwoods.
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Old June 7, 2007, 01:28 AM   #13
Mike U.
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Great replies and info. Thanks guys!

Desertfox has got me feeling like Homer Simpson now.
Talk about not seeing the nose on my face. DUH! and DOH!!
I'd completely forgotten about squirrels and bird feeders. Crap. Theres a whole sub-industry making squirrel resistant feeders because the little pests are so clever they defeat nearly every new trick feeder that comes out to keep them outta the seed.

I'd like to try that flushing method but these guys don't just hit the other side of a fat tree. They hit the next neighborhood at high speed. I'm not kidding, I see them doing downright dangerous moves and jumps to put distance between us. And they don't stop till their outta sight.
Good advice about sitting still for awhile. With these varmints I'd probably have to get a ghillie suit to make it work though.

You know, it's not like I've wounded any that have escaped to spread the word about the fat, gray haired guy with the doom-stick. The ones I shoot are usually DRT or are slowed down enough to where the follow-up shot takes them out. Now, I have had some flat-out misses too. I've had rounds deflected by branches and once I actually barked one when she moved just as I shot. I just missed her and the wood bark flying off the trunk knocked her off the tree and out. A quick follow-up finished her. Gotta say, that was an interesting shot.

At this point, I wonder if just walking around with a stick more often may eventually clear them out of the area.

mrawesome22,

I used to love squirrels for the very reasons you mention before I became a home owner. Then they became a little darker and a lot less loveable.

Please don't bring up Racoons! I pray every night they don't decide to move in too.
We have them around the 'hood here, but, I've yet to have problems with'em. *knock on wood*
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Old June 7, 2007, 01:40 AM   #14
T. O'Heir
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"...girdling the bark..." More likely to be Bugs than Rocky. Tree rats don't eat bark.
Blood meal spread around the garden supposedly keeps tree rat engineers from digging up bulbs.
"...omnivours..." Omnivores? They're canabalistic too. Saw one carrying off a dead one one time. Friggin' thing was full grown too.
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Old June 7, 2007, 01:55 AM   #15
mrawesome22
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Mike, it sounds like you need Bill Murry from "Caddy Shack". LOL
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Old June 7, 2007, 02:06 AM   #16
Mike U.
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Do you happen to have Bill's number?

T. O'Heir,

Yep. It's the tree rats. For some reason they love to chew the bark off of Camphor Trees. When we first moved here, the wife and I would sit in the backyard and watch them doing it. Thought it was odd but cute until massive limbs got chewed all the way around and subsequently died. Bad news...especially here where we get the annual joy of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes.

The only semi-sure way I've found to keep them out of the bulbs is to bury a chicken wire barrier a couple of inches above the bulbs. It allows the growth to get through the mesh and keeps the rats from getting to the bulb itself. Most of the time anyway. They can be downright tenacious.

Man! I always thought they were vegetarians. That's freaking creepy!
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Old June 7, 2007, 07:12 AM   #17
Art Eatman
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Here in the Terlingua desert we have rock squirrels. Tunnel-dwellers. I've seen them grab and kill baby quail. Not a common event, but it does happen. I periodically step out with the 20-gauge and do a little population control.

If your squirrels have come to identify a "stick" with Bad Things, why not try poking the barrel through a shirt sleeve, with the stock through the other sleeve? That might give a whole new meaning to "Laundry Day".

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Old June 7, 2007, 08:40 AM   #18
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Mike U, I felt the same way as mrawesome22 until I bought a house in a wooded neighborhood. I feed the birds year around pretty much. I often have as many as 5 or 6 grey squirrels at my feeder at one time. I get fed up (I'm feeding birds not squirrels.); take the air rifle out, and do some population control. At first, you can pretty much walk close. They learn and when they see "gun" they know what is coming their way. They pretty much ignore me with a slingshot. Most animals learn pretty quickly when it has to do with self preservation.
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Old June 8, 2007, 12:30 AM   #19
Mike U.
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Yeah, it's amazing what moving into a heavily wooded 'hood can do for your outlook on some critters.

That sleeve sock idea sounds like it'd be worth a try. I'll give it a whirl and see how it goes. Thanks!

Pretty bizarre to think I may end up having to set up a blind on my porch or in the yard.
That oughtta go over well with the neighbors.
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Old June 8, 2007, 01:35 AM   #20
jrothWA
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Its obvious that..

you missed more than you connected and the surviving squirrels are now educated.
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Old June 8, 2007, 02:55 PM   #21
Mike U.
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They are always around, jrothWA.
The times I missed were clean misses where I actually see the deflection or where the errant round impacts. I'm shooting .22 CB Shorts and pellets. It's not difficult to see them in flight. I've been fortunate thus far in that the wounded ones never got away completely before being finished off. Knock on wood. I hope you didn't just jinx me with your post.

I believe it's more of a case of when the fat guy with gray hair shows up with that stick, someone dies. As I've said, there are always others around and they've associated me carrying a long stick with really bad news. There is also a bark-like alarm that goes out that sets everyone in immediate panic mode. I hear that little bark and then see nothing but bushy-tailed gray ghosts in high gear.

Also, while I'm thinking about it, just want to say I won't shoot at a moving target. Last thing I want to do is make an animal suffer with a stupid damn-fool shot that wounds and maims. :barf:
Even if that animal is making life difficult and costly for me.
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Old June 8, 2007, 05:51 PM   #22
Jseime
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You were throwing rocks at the gopher, yet it was HE that was annoying YOU?
I was working and he stood there and squeaked at me for 20 minutes. So being as my trusty 597 was sitting in the safe at home the rocks had to do.
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Old June 8, 2007, 08:57 PM   #23
jrothWA
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NOW I understand...

it Grays your hunting. They are sneaky devils, I'm more use to the Fox.
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Old June 8, 2007, 10:14 PM   #24
Mike U.
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Oh, Thank God it's not Fox Squirrels!
As much racket as the grays make at night running around up in the attic, I can't imagine what it'd sound like with Fox Squirrels up there!
I'd probably have bits of plaster falling on me.
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Old June 8, 2007, 10:20 PM   #25
prime8
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You think you got it bad

Looks like these rats have lost it.......lol

http://www.scarysquirrel.org/current/blackskwerls/

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/squirrels.html

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/squirrelsblack.html

http://www.scarysquirrel.org/campus/campus.html

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/squirrels2.html
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