Editor’s note: The following column was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Aug. 24, 1974.
OUR GOOD FRIEND, Ken Marvel of South Hill Road, New Boston, writes of another interesting experience which I would like to share with you. His letter follows:
“Around the first of April while I was nailing the old boards on the barn, a little creature came from one of the knot holes in the barn boards. It stopped about two feet from the ladder I was standing on. Not knowing what it was, I got my camera to take a picture of it. When I arrived back, it had gone. With the camera over my shoulder, I continued to nail the boards but, of course, it would not come out again.
“A few weeks later my wife and I had a gilmpse of it. It was very small, something like a chipmunk. A week later while moving some wide boards in the barn, I saw it on the upper scaffold eating old hay seeds. Again the camera came into action. After several close pictures I still was not certain what it was. The thought came to me that it was a flying squirrel. Then I thought it couldn’t be. Where would it come from and why was it here at the barn, and why hadn’t I seen one before?
“Then one day while walking from the barn to my house for a glass of good spring water — there it was, drinking from the bird bath. I really could not believe what I saw, but I made quick steps to the house for the camera. I called to my wife to come quick, and she made quick steps to where I told her the little creature was. I took time to put on the zoom lens, so we may have a close-up picture.
“We were able to go right up to it. My wife, Dorothy, suggested I put on a pair of gloves — and would you believe I caught it and put it in a wire cage! I called my neighbor again and he and his wife and son came up to see it. They brought a book on mammals so we would look it up. Sure enough, it was a flying squirrel. A real cute, friendly creature. After a short while I let it go. It went off into the brush and we haven’t seen it since.”
Flying squirrels are nocturnal creatures and it is very rare to see them in the daytime. Ken’s experience certainly struck me as being a novel one.
Over the years I have found, much to my surprise, that there are several people who don’t take kindly to flying squirrels. It seems that on occasion they get into folks’ attics and spend a considerable time during the night ramming around there and not being quiet about it.
A lady in Spofford told about seeing flying squirrels at dusk on her bird feeder. There was a large family of them, she said. “Too many.” And she didn’t appreciate them one bit. She said she was driven out of her bedroom. It had a steel ceiling and she couldn’t stand the noise.
We have steel ceilings in two of our downstairs rooms and this brought to mind some years ago when, during the dead of winter, we heard the patter of tiny feet above our heads. I have often wondered what manner of creature was making this intrusion into the privacy of our evening. (I don’t recall it kept me awake.) They would roll what I imagined were acorns across the ceiling and I pictured them knocking the acorns about much as a cat would play with crumbled paper. At other times it sounded as though there was an amateur hockey game going on. I suppose these scurriers of the night cold have been flying squirrels.
I am not sure whatever became of them because the noise ceased as mysteriously as it had begun and we have never been troubled since. We do have a habit of keeping a bit of rodent bait in the attic and in the cellar. My surmise is that their curiosity carried them a bit too far.
Stacey Cole, Nature Talks columnist for more than 50 years, passed away in 2014. If readers have a favorite column written by Stacey that they would like to see reprinted, please drop a note to Jen Lord at email@example.com.