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Old 09-25-2022, 03:27 PM   #1
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Ground squirrel!!!

The title has two meanings. My story will explain why.

A couple days ago we pulled into a campsite surrounded by open fields. We noticed when we were setting up we'd catch an occasional whiff of dead animal. I figured somewhere close by in the field was a rotting corpse.

Fast forward, and the smell continues, so I go for a walk sniffing the wind looking for the source. I carry a shovel and planned on digging a hole or covering the corpse as long as it wasn't too big. Problem was, any direction I walked away from the RV, the smell would fade, it was strongest around the rear of our rig. Hmmm. I chalked it up to the constantly shifting breeze and possibly a dead critter in a nearby bush. At one point I was even sure the smell was coming from a trash can next to our site.

This morning my wife asked the fateful question: "What's under the bed?" I answered "The engine" and she suggested we raise the bed and look. That's when a light bulb went on over my head. You see, about a week prior we were at a spot that had a large ground squirrel population, one burrow being right next to our site. When I started the engine to leave that site, we both heard a rattling noise for a few seconds. I pulled out, stopped, and looked under the rig but everything looked fine, and there was no more noise. The rattle never returned. Fast forward a week - that's 7 days of 100 degree weather and one horrible smell later.

Yep, you guessed it. I opened the engine cover to find a pile of ground up ground squirrel in the fan shroud against the radiator. Hence the dual meaning in the title "Ground" squirrel.

So, my next project is finding a way to scoop out the pile of fur, maggots, and rotting flesh from a very difficult place to get to. Lucky me.

Fortunately, there was no damage to the fan blades. Hope it was quick for the poor little guy. Death by 300 hp Caterpillar food processor had to have been particularly gruesome.

Think it would alarm my fellow campers if I exited my RV wearing a full hazmat suit and thick rubber gloves? Not the first time I've dealt with furry dead rodent bodies, but I thought being retired, I'd left that world behind. Guess not. Rodents... the gift that keeps on giving.

So, note to future self: If camped by ground squirrels, give the engine a quick crank, then pause before starting. Give the poor critter a chance to jump out before starting up the Squirrel 'O Matic meat grinder.

I could just let nature do it's thing. The body is in a corner, not blocking any airflow and the ambient daytime temps are supposed to stay quite high for some time to come. Add the hot air from the engine while driving and the body should desiccate rather quickly. Easier to peel dried squirrel jerky out of the corner than wet squirrel goo. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Oh, I have pictures of the crime scene if anyone want's a copy to look at while having lunch....
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Old 09-25-2022, 03:41 PM   #2
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week has gone by...smell should be gone in few days

Clothes Pins and let 'ground' squirrel become 'dried' squirrel


Drag hose inside....strong nozzle and blast away???
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Old 09-25-2022, 03:41 PM   #3
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Use Odo-Ban to eliminate odors. It is a product crime scene cleanup crews uses to eliminate odors.



Oddly enough I did that once about 35 years ago when a cat hid her litter in my pickup engine area. It was always parked outside and she took advantage of a good dry spot to hide them.


I heard the commotion and shut off the engine, lifted the hood and saw the carnage. Then restarted the engine to back up so I could clean up the mess and dead kits, and ran over the momma cat.
Was not a good morning.
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Old 09-25-2022, 06:52 PM   #4
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I hear they taste good, but a little fatty. Do the cleaning and when you're done, set a pot on the stove with water. When your wife asks why....tell her you're making squirrel soup.
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Old 09-25-2022, 07:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
week has gone by...smell should be gone in few days

Clothes Pins and let 'ground' squirrel become 'dried' squirrel


Drag hose inside....strong nozzle and blast away???
Sounds like good advice to me!
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Old 09-25-2022, 07:58 PM   #6
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We stayed at a campground in a primarily pine forest this summer and watched a chipmunk depositing miscellaneous vegetation pieces on top of one of the batteries of our Ram 3500 diesel. I cleaned it out but he had it back in there in less than 24 hours. We made sure to clean it out again when we left.
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Old 09-25-2022, 08:18 PM   #7
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This is my new, best RV story to give to newbies.
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Old 09-26-2022, 06:33 AM   #8
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reminds me of years..............ago when my brother in law chopped his cats tail off with the fan blade in his station wagon. That cat was always a good topic of conversation for a while and it lived along time.
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Old 09-26-2022, 07:47 AM   #9
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I always open the engine hatch (side radiator engine) and look all around with a flashlight, check oil, coolant level, condition of belts, etc before starting engine for exactly this reason.
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Old 09-26-2022, 01:39 PM   #10
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This is my new, best RV story to give to newbies.
Oh, but the story gets better. This ground squirrel when alive, would say meow.

Poor kitty. He's gone now, double wrapped in thick trash bags. Survived by a large family of maggots. I counted three species.

Had a heck of a time fishing the "body" out from between the fan blades. :^( Thankfully he stayed mostly intact. Skin and bones by now.



FYI: The campground I'm in forbids washing or rinsing of RVs. There was a lot of slimy goo, and our site is a little gravel over dirt. I'm afraid washing out the shroud would just make things worse, and leave a large smelly wet spot in my campsite. I'd rather not do that to the campground owner, or the next camper, so gave it a good spray with beach. Today we go for a drive to a farm trailer wash-out area a few miles away to see if I can use it when we leave. It appears to be open to the public, and I expect the smelly water will just blend in with all the washed out animal poop and rotten whatever, that's washed out of the local agricultural trailers in the area.

Well, that was fun - NOT!
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Old 09-26-2022, 01:42 PM   #11
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I always open the engine hatch (side radiator engine) and look all around with a flashlight, check oil, coolant level, condition of belts, etc before starting engine for exactly this reason.
My rig is a rear radiator. Only thing I'd see is the surge tank and the bottom of the bed.

Good advice though, for those who can.
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Old 09-26-2022, 02:11 PM   #12
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In my life, I've had similar fun with four cats, several rodent-types, and one large snake. Also had various critters get too comfortable under the hood and just chew wires for fun.

So, I now try to leave my hood partially open when parked in critter country. Probably won't work for a rear-engine rig, but the loss of pure darkness and solitude keeps the critters out.

(In Minnesota, sometimes a warm engine will attract cats and rodents on very cold nights. Gruesome. And, if it didn't work and they crawl in and then freeze to death at -20, much harder on the fan blades. Like ice in a blender.)
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Old 09-26-2022, 02:14 PM   #13
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Use new grounds of coffee (nothing from the Mr Coffee) in a metal pan and 'toast' or lightly burn then on the stove or with a heat gun. Used it on many different occasions in another life (career) to cover the odor of dead bodies in closed houses, apartments, garages and basements.
gross I know, but it will cover the odor until you can get to a dump station to wash the remaining debris out.
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Old 09-26-2022, 03:04 PM   #14
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Use new grounds of coffee (nothing from the Mr Coffee) in a metal pan and 'toast' or lightly burn then on the stove or with a heat gun. Used it on many different occasions in another life (career) to cover the odor of dead bodies in closed houses, apartments, garages and basements.
gross I know, but it will cover the odor until you can get to a dump station to wash the remaining debris out.
Sounds like DYI charcoal - the universal absorber. I'd be hesitant to place any solid granular product in the shroud next to the radiator without some way of removing it before starting the engine. I'd hate to push anything into the gaps in the fins. Good idea though in different circumstances though. Baking soda is another good thing for soaking up foul liquids, as would be - ironically - kitty litter.

The rear of my rig is facing south. Temps this week here are sticking around the upper 90s and breezy. I expect what's left after the bleach water dries will dry up pretty quickly. I have enzyme spray too but I expect hot dry air will work better to take care of the smell. It's already much better now that the body is gone. Fun fun fun.

There is a certain dark irony to my predicament. Usually posts like this are about rodents, mice and rats getting in doing damage, or stinking the rig up. In my case it's a rodent predator that caused the issue. Reminds me of the mice posts where people say barn cats keep the mice under control at their RV storage. Guess this puts a different spin on the idea.

Reminds me of a time where I had a call that a skunk was frequenting one of our buildings. I placed a trap door trap baited with some bacon on a Friday after closing time. Returned Monday morning to check the trap and sure enough the door was down and the trap was heavy. I was about to put the trap in the truck to deal with the skunk, when I heard a feeble, timid, meow. I set the trap down, opened the door and out shot a orange cat. He stopped looked back at me, meowed once (a thanks?) and shot over to the nearest bush where he peed up a storm, then ran off. Poor kitty must have been holding it all weekend. Bet he told that story to all his friends, and has probably never liked the smell of bacon after that.

This most recent event didn't end so well.
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