A Tale of Two Tanks

The story of an unlikely visitor…

We had been sitting in the room for three hours before he noticed. Head down, I was deep into grading papers and scheduling assignments with my eighth-grader sitting directly across from me at the restaurant style six-top we use for school. We’d been out of town. Nothing unusual about the room. No weird smells. Nothing out of place.

“What’s that in the fish tank?” my boy asked.

“What?” I asked back.

“There’s something in the fish tank,” he said emphatically as he pushed his heavy chair back and stood up.

I stood up too as the fish tank was 4 feet away.

The tank was dark and the water low. We had neglected it the last couple of months. The fish were alive but they didn’t have much of a view. The sides were grimy and green.

“Is that a squirrel?” he asked.

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed. “That’s not good!” The dark shape was coming into focus now. Eerily, the rodent was floating in a rather leisurely position, its buoyant body bobbing as the fish swam unwittingly nearby. Its eyes were cloudy and open. The horror! The horror!

“What the heck! ” I squealed and backed away.

fish tank with squirrel

For fifteen minutes there was squirming, head scratching and cringing in that room. Oooof.

Questions were asked…

  • How did the squirrel get in the house?
  • Where did it come from?
  • How long was it there?
  • How did it know the tank was a water source?
  • How do we get it out?

So many questions! The most important one, right then, was how to get it out.

We went and grabbed my deer and hog hunting 18 year old.

“You have to see this!”

He squealed and wouldn’t get within 8 feet of the tank.

Then we went and got the burly 21 year old who hunts and works out 2 hours every day.

“You have to see this!”

He come over to the tank and said “that’s creepy.”

“Will you take it out?” I asked in a serious tone.

“I’m not in the mood to deal with that,” he declared and quickly left the room

I called my husband on the slim chance that he wasn’t busy and could pop home to extract the unfortunate intruder. Years ago, we made a pact that if he would deal with all the dead stuff, I would deal with the throw-up and the midnight fevers.

“I’m busy on a project. Y’all deal with it,” came the reply.

Thankfully, Gabe, the 14 year old, stepped up to the challenge.

“We can’t just let that stay in here while we’re working. That’s too disgusting!”

What relief to a traumatized mom’s ears. He said to give him a minute and he returned with rubber gloves and a small plastic bin. Cringing and moving quickly, he pulled the grey squirrel out by the tail. Hunter and I screamed as he moved past and out through the garage into the yard where the unlucky squirrel came to his final resting place in a thicket of frost-worn ivy.

Afterwards, the house was thick with upheaval, but eventually everyone calmed down.

Weird things happen.

Sunday, Gabe managed to clean out the tank to give the survivors a fresh start. Yesterday, we bought two Gouramies, two tetras, two Zebra Loshes and a catfish to liven up the tank. A bubble LED light in the corner took the eeriness away. Now, we’re back in business.

a healthy fish tank

Later, we figured out that our doggie had kept the rodents away. Her canine presence kept the chipmunks, rats, mice and squirrels out in the yard and away from the house. With Jasmine gone, they are emboldened and seeking shelter during the winter months.

Two tanks have kept us entertained this week; they’ve kept us laughing and chattering during a pretty mundane time.

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