United States
Fact-checked

At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

Have Squirrels Always Been Welcome at the White House?

Squirrels have a whimsical history at the White House, often seen as charming guests on its grounds. Their presence dates back to President Roosevelt's era, who famously enjoyed their company. Yet, their status as welcome visitors has fluctuated with each administration's stance on wildlife. What do you think about these furry inhabitants' place in presidential history? Join the conversation and share your views.

Some U.S. presidents are faced with a series of international crises during their time in office. Some, like President Dwight D. Eisenhower, have to deal with diabolical turmoil at home. For Ike, the enemy was the eastern gray squirrel (alias Sciurus carolinensis).

In the spring of 1955, some bushy-tailed combatants were relentlessly digging up portions of the White House putting green, and the retired army general (and avid golfer) declared war. Although White House officials toyed with the idea of scaring the rodents away by playing a recording of squirrel squeals, a University of Maryland biologist suggested simply capturing and relocating them. In March 1955, it was announced that three such POWs had been relocated, two to Rock Creek Park in Northwest D.C. and one to Virginia, and that the move had solved the nutty problem.

Eisenhower vs. the squirrels:

  • Years later, journalist Jack Anderson – known for exposing corruption and scandal – would claim that the three squirrels hadn’t been trapped and freed. They were poisoned, he claimed, citing unnamed JFK-era sources.

  • The U.S. Golf Association built the green on the South Lawn of the White House, just outside Ike’s office. The president could often be seen, with an 8-iron and wedge in hand, practicing his chipping.

  • Eisenhower took some ribbing for his obsessive Squirrel War, including a Washington Post headline that mockingly read: “White House Squirrels Being Deported for Taking Divots From Putting Green.”

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower "waged war" on the squirrels that were damaging his putting green on the White House's South Lawn.
      In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower "waged war" on the squirrels that were damaging his putting green on the White House's South Lawn.