Of course not, you will reply. Unfortunately, you may be wrong. Read on.
Evesham Bell Tower is well-protected against bird infestation. No bird gets it, which
is as it should be. New stainless-steel mesh was applied about 20 years ago and
it's all in excellent condition. However, these defences were tested by
squirrels recently and were found to be insecure. There have been reports of
squirrels running up and down the outside of the Tower for some time, but no
signs of entry until one Saturday morning when I went in to raise some bells
for a wedding. There were bits and pieces over the ringing room floor. These
had fallen through the rope holes. I went up to the clock room to see what had
occurred, fervently hoping the ropes were OK. They were, and the clock room
didn't seem unusually disturbed. Up to the belfry to check out the ropes there.
Again, ropes OK and nothing unusual. You know the feeling: something's wrong,
but you're uneasy because you can't find the cause. We rang for the wedding and
afterwards one of the ringers and I took another look. In the belfry I noticed
a movement of something that looked like a bushy tail. Further investigation
revealed a large eye looking out of a crevice. It was a squirrel. There was a
sudden vision of £2500-worth of bellropes being chewed and made useless! Action
to remove the squirrel was required: and fast! I emailed the Vicar, who told me
Get on with getting a pest control man in as quickly as possible. The
first thought was to get the ropes off, as, being a Saturday, getting someone
in wasn't going to happen until Monday. However, some of the bells were up
ready for Sunday ringing, so removal had to be left until the following
morning. I hoped the rodent wouldn't fancy a bit of polyester overnight.
However, luck was with me.
The Vale Magazine, a local freebie mag, was to
hand and I looked up pest control. Hinton Pest Control's advert looked me in
the face. Hmm, that's nicely local: give them a ring. A lady answered, listened
to my story and then said,
Would you like us to come now? Oh, most certainly!
She said her husband, Stephen, was out on another job, but would call me when
he'd finished. Stephen did and I met him at the Tower at 7.15pm on Saturday
night. What service! He set two traps, one in the belfry and one in the clock
room. I said I'd check them next morning. Stephen told me squirrels are able to
get through holes as small as 15mm (that's about ⅝")! Being crawly,
flexible creatures that are able to grip on any surface except glass and
ceramics, there's hardly a chance
normal little crevices will stop them
entering. Birds can't get where squirrels can.
I came to the Tower next morning hoping the traps had done the bizz. They had. I could
hear rattling upstairs when I reached the Ringing Room door. There was nothing
in the clock room trap, but the belfry trap had not one, but two, grey
squirrels in it. They weren't happy. They were only small, so were probably young.
Unfortunately, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was told by
Stephen's wife not to attempt to touch one, because they're nasty things and
fight like almost nothing else of their size. Stephen confirmed they're not
nice at all when they're cornered.
Yes, he said,
they're just rats that live
in trees; cuter looking, but nonetheless rats: don't touch. We left a trap in
the Tower on Sunday night and checked Monday evening. Another squirrel had been
caught! Traps will be left in the tower and checked. We shall be blocking up
any small holes that could allow a squirrel through.
In case you think squirrels can't reach the louvres or whatever in your tower and therefore their ingress is unlikely, let me tell you these things seem to have big suckers on their feet to defy all forms of gravity. I've seen a squirrel calmly running down the full height of one of the Bell Tower's buttresses; and a person told me he'd seen a squirrel on the clock hands, but it had slipped and fallen to the tarmac below. It was a bit dazed and a bit bloodied, but it got up and ran off. They can get anywhere. If they get in, severe damage is very likely to occur to bellropes, woodwork and electrical wiring. The cost of getting someone in to remove these creatures will be very cheap compared to the bill for their damage. I can recommend Stephen of Hinton Pest Control (01386-41762): a really nice accommodating chap. Oh, and I learnt later, his daughter is learning to ring at Hinton-on-the-Green.