“The Grinch of Christmas”: Critters already chewing away holiday lights

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    SHAKOPEE, Minnesota (WCCO) — First it was pumpkins, now Christmas lights. Squirrels are getting in on holiday festivities and becoming quite the Grinch at some homes across the metro.

“We have three young girls and Christmas is everything. Christmas is family,” James Rasmussen said.

James Rasmussen’s Shakopee home is sparking with lights. He hopes they will last him the full season, unlike last year when an owl cut the holiday spirit short, literally.

“All of the sudden they just started shutting off and I went out and looked and we had an owl that had clipped every one of them. I bet there was probably 50 pieces and it actually made a nest and we had baby owls under our deck. I thought we only had to worry about the squirrels but the owls got us!” Rasmussen said.

Whether the critters are using the lights and writing to make nests or to sharpen their teeth or taste the wire coating, it’s a constant battle for Rob Schlosser. He started Custom Christmas Lighting 23 years ago and says he has responded to several calls this past week about damage to Christmas lights due to squirrels.

“Squirrels can be really nasty,” Schlosser said.

He says there isn’t a magic solution to the problem but there are some ideas people can try to deter the rodents.

One is spraying a deterrent on the wires and lights. Another is to remove all bird or squirrel feeders from the yard. Some experts suggest coating the wires in scents squirrels don’t like, including peppermint oil or apple cider vinegar. Choosing lights that have a plastic casing around the wires is another idea to deter squirrels.

“If you use larger gauge wire such as C9 bulbs, they are less likely to chew it since it’s larger, although yesterday I did have a job where it was chewed on the larger wire,” he said.

In 2021, squirrels in St. Paul forced Mears Park to scale down its annual light display.

“It’s just part of it, you know? You hope it doesn’t happen often and we’ve been fortunate. When it does happen it’s just the grinch of Christmas,” Rasmussen said.

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