The Texas Hill Country is rife with wildlife. In our neighborhood we have gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats, whitetail deer, skunks, raccoons, possums, squirrels, snakes (various species) and lizards. Denny and I have identified 83 species of birds in our yard.
The human residents in this community coexist with the wildlife. They were here first. But a couple of species try everyone's patience. Squirrels, particularly.
Rats with fluffy tails. Digging up bulbs, pulling out seedlings, taking one bite out of not-quite-ripe tomatoes and leaving the bleeding carcasses on the ground. Not to mention vandalizing bird feeders and thieving the seed.
They're taking over the world. One of my family members has a Toyota 4Runner. It's the dog's car but the dog hasn't wanted to go anywhere lately because it's cold. That's what they told me, honest. Although they could have meant that the SUV is the car in which they don't mind having a big German shepherd ride.
So the 4Runner has been parked under the aluminum carport in the back yard.
Last week they went out to start the SUV for a trip to the garden store (the dog must have let them borrow it). 4Runner wouldn't start.
The car repair place sent someone to check the 4Runner out. What he found under the hood was, you guessed it, squirrels. Mama and babies in a cozy nest made of wires lined with leaves. Wires that used to be connected to various parts of the engine.
Which leads to an inescapable conclusion, one not reported in any media outlet prior to this blogpost: A conspiracy of squirrels is the true cause of Toyota's reliability problems. Think about it; they're everywhere.
You heard it here first, in the Texas Hill Country.
P.S. Estimated repair cost $300. On a square-foot basis, those squirrels had the highest-priced home in town.
Words and photos by Kathleen Scott,for her blog Hill Country Mysteries. Copyright 2009-2010.