Opossums aren’t the only ones that play dead.

This post was inspired by author Laurie Halse Anderson. I noticed a tweet she sent on Monday morning, and I decided to tell my own story.


There I was – minding my own business, returning home after a long day at work. I walked upstairs from our drive-under garage/basement and noticed a squirrel on the carpet in the hall.

After freaking out a bit, I picked up the phone and called Rob at work. “Rob! There is a dead squirrel in the hall. The dogs brought in a squirrel and left it in the hall! What am I supposed to do?!”

Calmly Rob replied, “You can put something over it, and I will take it outside when I get home.”

I kept Rob on the phone with me, grabbed a towel, and returned to the furry carcass. Just as I was going to place the towel on the beast, it moved. Point of clarification, that sucker got up and ran down the hall and into the kitchen.

“ROB! It is still alive! Aaack! It is in the kitchen!! ROB!!! Come home! HELP ME!”


Let’s back up a bit, shall we?

Rob and I were married in October of 2002. We had three dogs and two full-time jobs. The jobs kept us out of the house from 6am until 6pm most week nights. Rather than return to messes on the floor, we left the doggie-door open, allowing our dogs free reign throughout the house and backyard.

Who knew the dogs would consider the free reign was a welcome mat for displaying their kill.

In January 2003, we decided to rip up the carpeted living room and install hardwood floors. As a result, we had to move the living room furniture (which was minimal) into the dining room. Even though we didn’t have any dining room furniture, the space was super tight.

My point? When we were home and not in our bedroom, we were living in the kitchen/dining room, and the living room was a wide open empty space. There were not too many places to hide.


The instant I hung up the phone with Rob, I opened the front and back doors. I chased the squirrel around the kitchen and living room, trying my best to get the rodent out of the house.

While in the kitchen, that squirrel found some sort of escape route underneath the cabinets. It disappeared into the woodwork. Gone.

I went down on my hands and knees, looking under the cabinets, trying to locate the hole the squirrel used. I couldn’t see one. I grabbed a flashlight and looked, but I could not see a hole for the squirrel.

When Rob got home from work, he asked about the squirrel, and I told him it disappeared. I showed him the corner section of the cabinets, and I explained that it went underneath and *poof* was gone. Rob mentioned something about gaps in the woodwork at the bottom of the cabinets where the corners are connected.

I waited the rest of the night for the squirrel to make an appearance. Then I wondered if it was going to die – stuck in the cabinet baseboards. Oh the odor!

Before I went to bed, I left out a small bowl of water and a few crumbs. I made sure the dogs slept with us, because I wanted to make sure the squirrel stayed safe. Truly, my goal was to get the sucker outside where it belonged.

The next day, the crumbs were gone, but the squirrel was nowhere in sight. Days passed, and we neither saw nor heard the squirrel. Rob was starting to wonder whether or not the squirrel even existed.

Late one night, while watching television (in the dining room) with my dog, Lina, I heard a noise. I looked to my left and I saw it. The squirrel was peeking around the corner of the counter/cabinets. It stepped out behind the counter long enough that I could see the thing was ferocious very skinny. I felt bad for the little guy.

Lina noticed the squirrel and headed right for it, but the squirrel made it to the mystery hole before Lina got to it.

As you might have expected, Rob was not home at the time. He saw nothing.

Two weeks passed.

One night I returned home from work to find the squirrel in the living room. He was sitting by one of the windows. He looked so tiny and emaciated. I felt horrible.

I called Rob at work, and I let him know the squirrel was out running around again. I blocked off the kitchen, making every effort to keep the scrawny rodent in the living room. When I went to open the front door, I saw the squirrel run towards the kitchen.

Quickly, I opened the front door and darted to the kitchen, trying to scare him back into the living room. The squirrel turned around and ran up the brick fireplace.

From there, I was able to corner him enough to get him outside.

I got the squirrel outside!! The squirrel lived! We were spared the odor of a dead and decaying animal in our kitchen! Woo hoo!

And Rob? He never saw the thing. To this day, I talk about the squirrel that lived in our house for two weeks. Sadly, some hear the story more as work of fiction than fact, because Lina (the dog) and I were the only ones to witness the critter.

Remember readers, opossums aren’t the only critters that play dead, approach ‘dead’ animals with caution, and grab your camera. You never know when you might need proof the ‘dead’ animal exists.


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48 thoughts on “Opossums aren’t the only ones that play dead.

    1. To this day, I don’t know how the dogs didn’t get the squirrel. Wilbur and Cherokee were puppies at the time. Seriously, how that sucker lived for two weeks boggles my mind.

  1. Wow, I would be even more terrified than I am when I try to get spiders out of my house. Glad both you and the squirrel made it out alive.

    1. Spiders freak me out more than squirrels. Way more. Had the squirrel not tried to play dead, I may not have freaked out so much. That was a cruel joke he played on me. Cruel. I’m glad we both survived, too.

  2. Ohh no, I am sorry to laugh but that was a great squirrel saga. We don’t have then here but we do get a lot of possums. I am glad you both survived.

  3. Hi,
    That is incredible, it is amazing how these animals find the smallest of holes to get through, I’m glad it all turned out right in the end.

    1. Hello Mags. I still don’t understand where the squirrel went to hide. And, I do not understand why we did not see him more. So strange in many ways.

  4. I would be interested in reading this from the alleged squirrel’s point of view. 😉

    P.S. As I was reading I was reminded of how our dobies used to bring box turtles in through the doggie door. Then I got to your pictures and our house at the time had that same fireplace. Then I got to the full room picture — it’s not exactly the same but close enough to make me homesick

    1. Me, too, Hippie. I’d love to get the squirrel’s point of view. I’m not sure of the lifespan, but I do wonder if the guy is still living in our yard.

      The doggie door is still in use. The picture I included of the doggie door was taken this week. The two dogs in the shot were puppies during the squirrel invasion. I am sorry the pictures made you homesick. I could show you a picture taken before we removed the curtains and carpet. I’m certain it would take away the homesick feeling, though you may end up feeling nauseous. (smile)

    1. I’m glad you liked the story, Maxi. I read it to Rob before publishing. I was afraid it was a little too boring. And yes, we still have the doggie door, which is used frequently. The flap-flap-flap is a common sound in our house.

  5. I love it when I find a new, unexpected pet in the house. They all like to play ‘Freak Out the Human.’ Good job, LD, I’m glad you both survived.

  6. I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but… poor squirrel. I’m glad that you got him outside where he could live his little squirrel life. Can you imagine how surprised he must have been to find himself inside the house?

    1. I agree, Jackie. I felt bad for the squirrel when I found it dead. I felt worse when it got stuck in the cabinet. (Seriously, how it played dead is beyond me.) The first time I saw its’ scrawny body I felt awful awful. I was thrilled to see it 2wks later, and I was elated when I got it out the door. Everyone won! 🙂

      1. I’m here, I’m here! Thanks for sending me, Byronic Man, and hiya Lenore! Can I just say I am REALLY glad this story had a happy ending? You are a champ! And Laurie Halse Anderson is nuts. A chipmunk in the house is an amazing Monday.

        1. Jules! Thanks for visiting. (Thanks for sending her Byronic.) I am glad you liked the story. Last night I found a large spider in our kitchen. The darn thing went to the same corner ‘mystery’ hole as the squirrel. My husband (and kids) were not home. Figures. I had to leave for a class, and I left a note for the guys – hoping they’d safe me. Fortunately, the spider did show itself, so he was moved back outside. I feared another 2wk disappearance.

  7. Great story!! We leave our backdoor open all the time — for Penny access and just because it’s usually decent enough to enjoy getting fresh air, so we’ve gotten critters in the house a few times. Once it was a vole-like varmint, but mostly it’s birds that fly in. I am the varmint wrangler.

    1. Birds. Yes, birds. Birds provide us with excitement every week, it seems. They fly in our screened porch and get stuck, and the dogs cause a ruckus trying to capture the flying fowl. Fortunately for the birds, we intervene in time, shooing the dogs out, and opening the windows/screens so the birds can find their way home. Always an adventure with pooches! 🙂

  8. Girl, I don’t know how you slept those nights. We have dog doors, too, and I’ve always feared that my darlings will drag in some horrible thing, but so far so good. If/when it happens, I will absolutely be calling my husband and shrieking for him to COME HOME!

    1. I don’t know if I did sleep for those two weeks, Louise. (smile) And, my dogs would have loved to have had their way (again) with the squirrel, but I wanted to try and keep the little guy safe. That was one tough squirrel.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jennifer. I apologize for my late response. Birds get trapped in our porch weekly, it seems. It is nuts trying to get those feathered flyers out safely. (smiles) Adventures abound, eh?

    1. Thank you, Erin. I appreciate your vote of confidence. Reading the other submissions is important. I have a hard time reading the posts I follow through WordPress as it is – I’m afraid I would not get through all the posts YeahWrite attracts. I didn’t even get to all of the ones on the non-voting grid. In any case, thank you for your time, and I am glad you liked the story.

    1. 🙂 Thanks Kimberly. Had you seen the before shot of the living room with the carpet and window treatments you would be even more impressed with the beauty of our current living room. (smile) I am very glad you enjoyed the story. With hand motions and facial expressions, re-telling it over coffee would be enjoyable for certain!

  9. I love your little additions. Your pictures were like “Where’s Waldo?” And I for sure am coming to live with you. Me and the dogs. And Noah. And Snickers. And Hot Joe. Yay! Once my cat brought a bird into my office. I shut the window and ran out and I could hear it in there messing with the poor bird and the bird hitting walls. I called my brother-in-law who came over wearing gigantic gloves. He picked up the poor almost-dead bird and dropped it in the bushes. The office was COVERED in feathers. They were EVERYWHERE. And I too called Joe, who said, “I’m working; I can’t help you.”

    1. I’m glad you could see the little additions. I should have made the guy bigger or darker to stand out more.
      I am sorry the bird story did not have a happier ending, and I am sorry Hot Joe did not come to your rescue. I’m sure he would have come had it been a squirrel. (smile) The thought of feathers flying humors me.

  10. Holy smokes! This story was EPIC, Lenore! I loved it. Even better that it had a happy ending.

    I love the doctored photos to allow us to see the crime scenes. Although, with no photo evidence of the squirrel, I don’t know that anyone can believe you. And Lina hasn’t said a word about it to me.

    1. Thanks, Angie. I’m glad you could see the doctored photos. Sadly Lina took the story to her grave. I was hoping for a deathbed confession, but she remained silent. The story is true, I tell you. True! True!

        1. Me, too. She was the best dog. BEST dog. I didn’t mention she died in the post. So, you missed the fact, because you didn’t get the memo. My apologies for not getting the memo to you. 🙂

  11. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if something was going to run IN the door while it was open to let the squirrel out!

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