Industrious vermin call vehicles of Glen Oaks Village home

Glen Oaks Village's Justin Conklin points to where a squirrel's nest was built, damaging the heat shield blanket under his car's chewed-up hood. Photo courtesy Bob Friedrich
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Unexpected guests have shacked up under some residents’ car hoods, sparking a bitter critter battle in Glen Oaks Village.

Bob Friedrich, president of the wooded co-op community, said two company vehicles were the latest victims of what he called renegade squirrels in a conflict that seems to be plaguing the area.

“The rampaging squirrels have apparently taken their cue from the Occupy Wall Street crowd and are now occupying Glen Oaks,” Friedrich said.

According to Friedrich, the community’s insurance company declared one company vehicle a total loss after squirrels built a nest under the hood. He said a second vehicle needed a new wiring harness installed after squirrels had gnawed through it.

Justin Conklin, a resident of the co-op and a member of its board, has become too familiar with these unwanted ride-along pals. He said he has found a squirrel’s nest under the hood of his car two times so far this year. While driving, he said he noticed a smell of something burning.

“Déjà vu,” Conklin said. “Another squirrel had set up home under the hood of my car.”

The nest was built in under 36 hours as Conklin said he had worked on his vehicle less than two days before finding the nest. Though no wires had been chewed, the rodents had nested in the heat shield blanket under the car’s hood, leaving a hole.

Conklin said he hoped that his own pepper spray concoction might keep it from happening again.

The causes were unknown, but might be related to the squirrels’ nesting and birthing patterns, according to Steve Elson of Chemtech Exterminating Corporation in Fresh Meadows.

“Most of the time, squirrels give birth around the months of April and August,” Elson said. “They’ll harbor in crawl spaces or attics, usually. But the warm engine inside a car might attract them, too.”

Friedrich said the squirrels have been ruthless in their attempts to settle in his home community. He said Glen Oaks Village maintenance workers recently trapped some squirrels and painted one of their tales red before releasing it about two miles away. Less than two days later, Friedrich said, the red-tailed squirrel was seen back in the same spot where it had originally been captured in the co-op community.

Friedrich said he would call on state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) to ask the city Department of Health to help trap the animals.

According to the DOH, there is currently no policy in place to manage squirrels intent on nesting in area vehicles.

“Squirrels are often the cause of illness, and in the past, the areas surrounding Glen Oaks were treated with pesticide to inhibit rabies from area squirrels and raccoons,” Friedrich said. “These aggressive squirrels pose a hazard to children and property and the city needs to deal with this issue.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 10:31 am, April 13, 2012
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