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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

This Fargo man is battling a walnut-wielding squirrel-and losing

Bill Fischer, of Fargo, North Dakota, has a squirrel problem. A big one that he can't seem to resolve. At least not yet. Two of Fischer's recent Facebook posts have garnered media attention, both for the almost absurd determination of a certain red squirrel and Fischer's good-natured reaction to it.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/news/this-fargo-man-is-battling-a-walnut-wielding-squirrel-and-losing/
56 REPLIES 56
audiobycarmine
Technician

I'm so glad that Mr. Fischer is taking this so well. He is to be commended.

Squirrels are a very determined and industrious lot.
I know — I've been living with an Eastern Grey Squirrel for over four years. He's a non-releasable rescue. As with almost all wild rescues that remain with humans, he's tame, but not domesticated, though very playful and affectionate.
When loose, and not carefully watched, he will chew anything wooden, and I've found nuts in very unusual (sometimes uncomfortable) places.

Bill; I suppose you've thought of contacting wildlife groups in your area for advice. I recommend groups that have experience with squirrel rescues, not because that's what is needed, but because they are the best source of behavioural knowledge.

Good luck, and thanks for your humane and humored attitude.

hyperv6
Racer

I have dealt with messes like this on customer cars for years. This is why pest control is important. 

Same with ground hogs now as the are eating wires now due to the soy content. 

Too often this damage is very expensive. 

audiobycarmine
Technician

You’ve got an almost-Freudian typo in there...
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

BLAM! Thump.

Problem solved.
BigJon77
New Driver

Hello Mr. Fischer, we had a similar scenario once with parked (temporarily semi-abandoned) autos on our farm after the 2011 tornados in which gopher rats would build huge and intricate cities under the hoods of anything that didn't move within a few days. The solution was to raise the hood slightly to remove their sense of safety. Your squirrels have determined your vehicle to be a safe location, dark and warm and dry; so raising the hood will elminate this option. Yes it's a hassle to open the hood every time you park in the yard, but it will 're-train' the squirrels eventually....it worked on the gopher rats at least and it's worth a try. Good luck to you sir.
AlpinaC2
Intermediate Driver

An option may be a Victor Pestchaser ultrasonic rodent repeller. I use them in our fabric enclosure and my garage.
Best of luck and if you can't beat them make walnut cake
SS396
Intermediate Driver

......and squirrel stew!!!
JAG
Detailer

Had the same problem 20 years ago working for GM. Customer came in with a Venture Van still under warranty that would barely run. The technician quickly found the car was running full rich. Pulled the air cleaner box. It was full of dog food. People kept a 50 lb bag of dog food in the barn, for the dogs, and the squirrel decided to dig in. Found out later the squirrel got "lead poisoning". Took car of the problem. Back then the dealership didn't charge the customer... today I bet would be a $100 bill plus a hazardous disposal fee!
cueguy
Pit Crew

Similar story - worked in an auto center in the 80's and a young woman came in with a fox-body mustang complaining of it stalling. Same deal - removed the top of the air cleaner housing and found it full of dog food. I told her that we had found her problem and explained about the dog food. She said, "I don't get it" at which point I reached out and pinched her nostrils together and said, "Breathe". She said, "I can't" and I said, "Neither can your car". You could almost see the light bulb go off over her head. They would probably arrest me for that move in today's PC society, but everybody laughed at the time.
CP66
Detailer

They say that painful lessons are the best learned! I bet the first thing she does to this day if her car isn't running right is check the air cleaner box.
uweschmidt
Instructor

What a lovely Crop I love Walnuts just as much as that Squirel
GRP_Photo
Instructor

You will find that the meat of black walnuts is very hard to pick out of the shells and doesn't taste very good (in my opinion). You also have to let the hulls rot off the nuts. Wear gloves to deal with the hulls; they produce a black dye that doesn't wash out.
YesDear
Intermediate Driver

Squirrels antics are funny but their habits are destructive. I'm on my second can of .177 air rifle pellets and have not seen an adult for several months. With persistence, it is possible to thin out their numbers IF you can safely shoot.
bkmcgraw62
Intermediate Driver

I hear the squirrel drives a Ford. On the good side at least he can blame the squirrel for the chronic electrical and lightbulb eating issue all Bowtie owners have to deal with.

He should just leave them there and sprinkle in some pumpkin spice to make things smell good and appropriate for the season. Of course Bill will have to have a stick handy to drive off all the Ugg-wearing teenage girls looking for a Mocha Latte Frappuccino...
Dond
Intermediate Driver

Trap the little bugger and eliminate it. Wait till it starts chewing through wires or harnesses, then see if you are reluctant to kill it. Also, a cat may be useful.
RoadDog
Intermediate Driver

Well, don't be too hard on the squirrel for his/her hoarding habit. If you would clean out your garage you could park the Chevy indoors and solve the problem!
MtJoe
New Driver

We live up on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Critters are everywhere. So far...My MH engine takes a day to clear out all the remains of the pine cones chipmunks "squirral" away in there every winter. Mice did over $10,000 worth of damage to our Prius..our daily driver, undetected until the summer heat brought the odors to the fore. Our 3 classic cars are wrapped up for the winter, every winter... Had mice move a 40 lb. bag of dog food, piece by piece, in our motor home...found it all in the empty drawers of the MH.
We sprinkle cayenne pepper everywhere we can. There is a spray one can put on the tires to keep them from climbing up into the engines..we are trying it this winter. Prius now puts a screen under the cars to keep critters from crawling in...they love the warmth of the batteries.
We are open to all suggestions. Pest control does not work...they come and clear out what is there that day...spray a bit...the critters are back soon as it all wears off.
Except for cost of repairs...I love their determination, if only we could harness their energy.

CP66
Detailer

I've seen squirrels "standing broad jump" 10 foot spans, hope the spray works for you.
denali94
Intermediate Driver

Went through an almost identical situation in another mid-western state. One of my staff had taken ill and would not be returning to service. His state vehicle was parked on his property with dozens of black walnut trees. I dropped someone off to ferry the car back to the state motor pool some 175 miles away. When he started the car it made some of the most God-awful noises including what sounded like small arms fire. Shut off the engine and popped the hood only to find hundreds if not thousands of black walnut pods. Never realized how many nooks and hidey-holes there were under the hood of a Crown Vic. We cleared out what we could and headed down the road; every once in a while a walnut would fall out and bounce down the highway. Needless to say the motor pool guys were not real happy but they did a pretty good job cleaning things up. The car sat for another month or so before getting a new operator - his first complaint was the terrible smell from the heater/AC unit. Yep, rotted black walnut pods. and yes they did stink. They never did get the smell out. Car was sent to the boneyard for parts - too bad as it only had 30K on the clock and it was all highway miles. State government at its most efficient. I had pretty much forgotten about this until I saw the lead-in picture with the walnuts in the buckets in the email . . .
audiobycarmine
Technician

They could have contacted Rob Siegel...
Studenorton
Instructor

The comments don't disappoint, and I'm betting on more. Talk to anyone who has "processed" walnuts, and they'll tell you that walnuts + water = bad news. They create a permanent stain and an acid. If you have them in there, they have to come out. A simpleminded man might say that the truck needs to be garaged. That would be a guy who's never had an opossum, or a raccoon, inside the garage. And chipmunks, jeeze. Some say that mothballs, or fabric softener sheets, or pipe tobacco, will at least keep our buddies from eating your car. My experience has been that most repellents (even the ultrasonic ones, that do work on teenagers) are effective only until the animals get used to them. This sells a lot of repellents.
Linda
New Driver

We wondered why so many acorns would hit the hood of an old truck we had in our yard until we watched the squirrel run up the tree and out on a branch with an acorn and drop it. It would hit the hood and make a loud noise and the squirrel would run back and get another acorn and do it all over again. Who says they don't have a sense of humor! In the Springtime we found the air cleaner and engine compartment full of acorns.
MATTMERICA
Technician

The red squirrel, a crafty varmint to be sure. I have a walnut tree at the end of my driveway and I run the gauntlet every day coming and going in the Fall as those big green balls will put a dent in the auto if it hits it.
1stGenCamaros
Intermediate Driver

Live trap the Squirrel. Move and release him miles away in a nice wooded area. Worked for me with a Rabbit problem a few years back.
RedRyder_SFZ
Detailer

We’re all adults here. I live on a wooded 170 acre farm and I have lots of cars. Granted, I have a building I put them in but I don’t have this problem.
Two easy solutions.
Garage the vehicle like all of us here who love our cars do and/or get yourself a pellet rifle. Problem solved.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Aww nuts! He walnut fail!

Fischer nuts, he almost has the right spelling...
https://fishernuts.com/
Mick
New Driver

Has anybody told this poor guy if you drive it they can't fill it with nuts.
And also ref squirrels are notorious for chewing wires. It's time to attradicate this not do cute pest. Or put on extra car and home fire insurance.
Bigbody-AMC-guy
New Driver

Years ago when my dad was still around, he asked me to check his car because it barely got to highway speeds. I figured a fall tune up was in order. When I removed the air filter lid I found it to be packed with acorns. Ahhh, rural Wisconsin.
SuperDeLuxe
Advanced Driver

Adverse possession! I say the squirrel has earned that Avalanche, time to sign over the title and move on. 🐿
CP66
Detailer

Best response yet!
Zephyr
Instructor

The insulation used on modern wire is an irresistible treat to rodents, an expensive lesson I learned with a Pontiac Grand Prix. I recommend "Rodent Defense" (exterminatorschoice.com), a peppermint/garlic/pepper spray. Other fixes I have heard about are a bar of Irish Spring soap, dryer sheets, leaving the hood open, putting a motion activated light under the car or in the engine compartment, and a big pan of used cat litter under the car.
PRScott
Instructor

After you get tired of replacing damaged facia and trim that the squirrels have chewed through to facilitate entry to your home to make it theirs your lose the soft "aren't they cute attitude" . If you live in the country your shooting skills will soon improve with a .22. If not, then a 410 compensates nicely. If you live in town you can peruse the internet for easily made squirrel traps. It helps the conscience if you call them tree rats!
GRP_Photo
Instructor

If you do trap & release, take br'er squirrel about 5 miles out before releasing him. Take him one mile away, and he'll be waving hello in your driveway by the time you get back home.
MYTFAST
Intermediate Driver

last year squirrels made a nest of leaves during the fall inside the engine compartment of my 2004 retro thunderbird (7,000 mile show quality). When I discovered it, the entire side of the engine on the passenger side was full of leaves & after it was cleaned out, I discovered the squirrel chewed through the main electrical core of the wiring harness at the connector plug in & also chewed a number of other wires including some engine plastic items which all had to be replaced. Ford dealer said parts are hard to find with some plug in areas re-tooled to original. Cost was over $2,000 & I spent the next few months trapping squirrels that were venturing near where the car was stored & caught with sunflower seeds in wire cage traps. They were then relocated 5 miles or so on the other side of a water divide which would keep them from finding their way back. Problem solved..... at least so far!! The black walnuts described that were stored within car areas & fenders etc. would be really bad when the black goo stain that forms within the black walnut is impossible to remove, since it is a natural dark stain for wood items.
RonCopsetta
New Driver

Here in the East we use mothballs to deter rodents.
Been successful hanging women's anklet stockings filled with mothballs under the hood where they will not get too hot or tangled.
Rider79
Technician

If they are gray squirrels (not the fox squirrel), and you live outside city limits, then get a hunting license, and shoot the gutter rats when squirrel season starts. They taste great fried.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

with gravy & dumplings.
aalborz
Pit Crew

Had both of my wife and son's cars (Hyundai & Toyota) internal wiring all chewed up by squirrels, parked in the development we lived in. Same thing happened to our neighbor's Infiniti SUV. My son got lucky as his car stopped dead on the street. If it had happened on a busy highway would've probably caused a major accident.
SpringGT
Pit Crew

That is enough to drive you nuts!
hyperv6
Racer

One thing worse is if you get an animal like a cat under the hood to keep warm and the get into a fan or belts. That is a one time issue with said animal but not one you want. On the farm you always had to tap on the hood before starting. 

Musco03
Intermediate Driver

Years ago I had a major squirrel problem in my carriage house where I kept my cars. I tried everything under the sun and it was driving me nuts (no pun intended) finally a friend of mine gave me the solution,
MOTH BALLS!! Yes this solved the problem as long as you can stand the smell for a while.
MadMac
Intermediate Driver

We decided to trade in our old square body Suburban for "Cash for Clunkers."
The third row seat had been hanging from the rafters in the garage the entire time we had it.
When we let it down, thousands of acorns fell out.
The squirrel had also torn up the upholstery to make a comfortable nest.

Other old vehicles we had owned had the wiring chewed by rodents.
Back in those days, wiring insulation was made with tasty ingredients:
soy, peanut oil, rice husks, and various plant-based materials.
Rodent repellent scent pouches tucked into the engine compartment brought that to a stop.
Modern vehicle wiring insulation is made without the tasty stuff.

warrene
Detailer

We're on a farm here and could have the same problem, but so far has been no problem, we also have cats, no mice in my old cars at all, no precautions needed, takes some cat food to keep them here but no matter, it's far cheaper then mice or squirrels.
onedb
New Driver

Here in the mid-west mice, rats, fox & grey squirrels are a problem. Tried moth balls several times without much success in our motorhome. A new ( older ) mechanic suggested cloves. Got 2 lbs of them at the grocery store bulk area that fall and came spring couldn't find a problem and it even smelled good. Been using cloves on several collector cars with the same good luck. Even a judge said he liked the oder when he opened the trunk. Sure beats the smell of moth balls.
JDull139
Intermediate Driver

Mice are one thing but squirrels are a horror.I had one who repeatedly built a nest on the engine in my RV.I would clear it out only to find it rebuilt in 1 or 2 days.I finally solved it by zip tieing chicken wire under engine compartment all the way to the transmission. The little sucker couldn't get past that.
LoudV8
Intermediate Driver

Put your ride in a garage and watch where you store food. No garage or storage space? Rent or build one. Will come out cheaper in the long run than repeatedly repairing rodent damage.
SAG
Technician

in my area, Panhandle Ne
the rabbits will eat spark plug wires
and other wires
for a snack
cultleader
Intermediate Driver

You know those are good walnuts. The squirrel smells them and leaves the bad ones. I learned that on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
MINI_4
New Driver

I also had a big problem with squirrels in my porch overhang & in the garage so set a live trap with peanut butter ( they love it ) at the base of the tree they were using to get to the overhang. When I caught one, I would spray paint it with white reflective paint and turn it loose a couple of miles away. Unable to hide, the hawks, owls & foxes took care of my problem.