This Best of Bogue column originally was published Jan. 27, 1999.

Dear Gary: A family of squirrels has moved into the space between our vaulted ceiling and the roof. They ripped off the vent screen and pulled out the insulation.

I don't want them to become live-in members of our household. I'm also worried about trying to evict them before the winter freezes are over.

What is the best method of removing them and when would be the best time? They are very quiet. If they would have disposed of the insulation in the garbage rather than on the side of the house, we might not have known they were living with us.

If they are the ones that own the yard, they are definitely in their childbearing years. Last year, the baby squirrels would play with our cats through the sliding doors.

Jim and Carla

Cyberpsace

Dear Jim and Carla: I'm glad you brought up the subject of baby squirrels. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum's Wildlife Rescue Hospital got its first orphaned baby squirrels on Feb. 12 last year, so it's definitely the season.

I'm guessing your squirrels moved into the attic to build a nest for their babies. That's why they rearranged the insulation. You know mama squirrels.

That means you need to evict them immediately because mama is probably going to be giving birth very soon, if she hasn't already. If it's too late and the babies have been born, you can wait two to three months for the young ones to get old enough to travel.

Yes, that's a tough decision. It's cold and wet outside right now, but you also don't want them redecorating your attic.

In most cases when squirrels enter the attic through a vent hole, they make a nest in the insulation just inside. If that's the case, there shouldn't be much of a mess.

On the other hand, squirrels like to chew and occasionally have been known to gnaw on electrical cords.

To evict them, hang a swinging door on the outside of the vent hole. The door should be bigger than the hole so that it only swings out to let them leave. That keeps them from getting back in.

Be careful they don't panic and charge out of the hole into your face while doing this.

Once they're gone, put up a new, stronger screen.

Because things have been so quiet, it doesn't sound like there's much activity. If it were me, I'd let them have their babies and send them on their way around April or so. But that's your decision.

Boy it's cold outside this morning. Who knows how long it might take them to find a new warm nest hole in this weather? I sure hope they find one before mama has her babies.

I know, I'm bad.

Tweety birds

Tuesday, the Bone family, of Concord, wrote about their lost cockatiel, Tweety. I asked you to call me if you'd found him. I received reports of birds in Concord, Walnut Creek and Antioch -- none of them Tweety. The hunt continues.

DEAR GARY: Why do my two goofy cats only seem to sniff each other's butts when company is over?

Suzanne

Cordelia

DEAR SUZANNE: Maybe your cats are stressed with strangers in the house and venting a little musk from their anal glands.

I suppose they could also be doing it to embarrass you. But the cats I know would never (choke) do such a thing.

Gosh it's hard to say that with a straight face.

Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.