Sneaky squirrel turns Edmonton woman's car into secret stash spot

When Ariel Durkin popped her hood, she discovered a trove of pine cones shoved into every nook and cranny of the engine compartment.

'You would need tiny little squirrel hands to be able to reach in there'

A squirrel used the engine compartment of an Edmonton woman's car to hide a secret stash of pine cones, peanuts, rotten apples and rocks. (Jessica Haines)

When Ariel Durkin popped the hood of her car, she discovered a trove of pine cones shoved into every nook and cranny.

A sneaky red squirrel had turned her engine compartment into his secret stash spot for pine cones, peanuts, rotten apples, even a few rocks.

"At first I was kind of in shock," Durkin said in an interview with CBC News on Friday. "I was kind of creeped out.

"I realized there were way more than you could see on the surface. They were really, really packed in.

"There were probably a couple hundred pine cones." 

Subaru  Impreza , model pine cone.- Ariel  Durkin

On that Tuesday morning, the suspected culprit soon arrived on scene — and was none too pleased about the loss of the winter stockpile.

A plump red squirrel, tail twitching, appeared at the top of her fence and began squeaking angrily.

Durkin squeaked right back.

"This is my car, not yours," she told the squirrel, in a video she posted online. "Don't be mouthing off to me. You had no right to put these in my car.

"You gotta find somewhere else to put them, man."

Durkin said the squirrel, a regular rabble-rouser in the neighbourhood, lives in a nearby tree and likely wanted to nest for the winter under her car hood.

"He always sits there, usually to chirp at us. Or he likes to actually throw stuff at you, like he will throw pine cones at your head. He's quite the character." 

Durkin spent hours trying to clean under her hood but suspects her car may be mechanically compromised.

"Some of those pine cones are just so deep in there, I couldn't get them out," she said. "They're a permanent feature of my car now.

"Subaru Impreza, model pine cone."

She had the fluids checked a few months ago, so unless the mechanics neglected to tell her of the stash, she suspects it all collected over the summer.

She drives the car regularly and doesn't want to leave it sitting idle for too long.

Durkin said she may have to call in a mechanic. 

"There are so many engine parts in the way," she said. "You would need tiny little squirrel hands to be able to reach in there." 

Despite all the trouble, Durkin, a professional artist and photographer, started to feel guilty for trashing the squirrel's stash.

Later that night, she went back out to her driveway and spent more than an hour plucking pine cones out of the snow and put them in a box for the squirrel to find.

"Why I'm doing this for a squirrel who tried to sabotage my car, I don't even know.

"Hopefully he appreciates this."

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon


Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca