I'm all for the celebration of rodents; we just had Squirrel Appreciation day, and now today, we (sort of) celebrate another rodent, the groundhog (who happens to also be a squirrel!). I think it's cute, like everyone else, that somehow people are obsessed with the folklore (originated in the 1800s) that somehow a rodent could see into the future and predict the weather.
I don't know if there's anyway to tastefully combine Martin Luther King Jr., Day - a day of activism and to contemplate the state of racism, privilege, justice, and equality in our country - with cats and squirrels, but I'm going to try. Kudos to the activists who shut down the Bay Bridge on Monday in a non-violent protest.
Okay, now to the cats and squirrels!
January 21 was Squirrel Appreciation Day! What's to appreciate? To me, a lot. Hopefully in 2017, I can give them props for helping me earn a PhD. But squirrels help propagate the growth of trees by carrying and burying (and sometimes forgetting) their seeds to areas where they can sprout; they are smart, adaptable, hard-working, and persistent creatures who can inspire the public's interest in animals and science. Oh, and they are pretty darn cute.
Today (January 22) is Answer Your Cat's Questions Day. What do you think cats want to know about humans? It may sound silly (and in fact it is). But in my work as a cat behavior consultant, I spend a lot of trying helping folks understand their cats' needs better, and its easy to see that humans do things that might perplex cats - like not providing them with adequate scratching, climbing or toileting options, and then getting angry when cats scratch, climb, or go to the bathroom on other things. We expect cats to love new cats, we expect them to sleep when they are bored, and to let us pet them and hold them even when they don't want to be petted or held. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US HUMANS? No wonder cats need their questions answered.
If squirrels had body image issues…
They’d be in trouble because the hot topic on the internet these days is FAT SQUIRRELS. Folks, they need to store up for a long, lean time…let them get chubby!
Then shamed for not making a jump…
It's been a rough few months...I submitted two manuscript revisions (one of which has been accepted! Huzzah!)! I went to New York City to be a panelist at the Better with Pets Summit! And I'm madly preparing for my final experiment that I hope will lead to my receiving a PhD sooner rather than later.
But, until the graduate school tidal wave returns...it's time to find out what squirrels have been up to for the last two months (no surprise, they've been busy).
Squirrels’ Reign of Terror
Marin County on high alert
The biggest news of late is the report of EIGHT separate squirrel attacks in a neighborhood in Novato, CA. Some of the attacks occurred when a squirrel jumped from a tree onto its victim. The problem began a few weeks ago, when the squirrel entered a school, biting a teacher and a student before being chased out of the building.
More recently, a squirrel attacked an 87 year old man, giving him injuries on his hands and face. Because of the proximity of reports, and similar behaviors reported, animal control believes the same squirrel was involved in all of the incidents.
This weekend, police reported they believe the squirrel is dead, as attacks have ceased. Warning flyers have been posted in Novato just in case he is not.
Recently, the food habits of rodents have been all over the news. Urban animals are well adapted to living around humans in part because they are willing and able to eat our leftovers. Not to be outdone by Pizza Rat, rats’ rodent cousins, quickly made headlines for eating milkshakes and cinnamon rolls. Obviously squirrels have a sweet tooth,
but some like tomatoes
Power outages and other problems
Squirrel related power outages were reported in: Hutchinson, KS (800 people); Grand Rapids, MI (2000+ people); Somerset in the UK (1000 people); Spokane Valley, WA (2359 homes); and Frederick, MD (1900 homes). Squirrel also caused grass fires in Raymond, MS and Bryan, TX.
Squirrels and politics
Is that a squirrel on your head or are you just happy to see me? Bobby Jindal accuses Trump of looking like he has a squirrel on his head. Frankly, it’s a little insulting to squirrels.
Squirrels and science
Virus discovery credited in part to squirrels
Squirrels may need a matchmaker
Russian ground squirrels spend much of their year sleeping – and when they come out of hibernation, it’s time to mate. But apparently the squirrels are suffering from a lack of males to mate with, and the inability of those males who are around to connect with females. Time for a squirrel Tinder app?
Endangered Red Squirrel
Once declared extinct, the red squirrel is present in the Mt. Graham area of Arizona, where researchers are currently tracking their numbers (approximately 300 individuals) and movements to better understand their behavior.
Town gets excited about relocated squirrel statue
Folks in Olean, NY have a new 14-foot high fiberglass squirrel living in their park, one of thirty around the town.
I admit, I gagged a little at some of the pictures from the recent Squirrel Cook Off.
Dog with dead squirrel
Why? I don’t know.
Baby squirrel rescued from fire in North Carolina
A baby squirrel had been sleeping in the attack of a home that caught fire in North Carolina. As he ran out of the burning house, firefighters gave him a few hits of oxygen before sending him on his way into the wild.
Brits once again obsessed with squirrel nuts
Yes, animals have genitals. Why this is supposed to be a source of embarrassment I’m not sure.
A 43 year old man near “Coon Valley,” WI was shot in the shoulder by his hunting buddy while seeking out squirrels. They didn’t report on whether they bagged any squirrels before the accident.
In NY, a man was shot in the face after another hunter missed his target (a squirrel). Oops. The injuries were not life-threatening.
…and a man in Indiana shot himself in the leg while hunting squirrels.
You gotta fight for your right…to feed squirrels?
A Canadian man had received several citations for feeding squirrels. The cops even had him placed under surveillance to stop him from offering handout to local wildlife. In response, he took his claims of privacy violations all the way to the Supreme Court. He did not win.
Squirrel stuck in gift shop
Locals expressed concern for “at least one squirrel” running around inside a gift shop in Seattle. The shop owners placed a trap in hopes of catching and releasing the squirrel.
Squirrels stuck in trap
A Wisconsin police log reports calls of complaints after someone trapping squirrels didn’t notice that two squirrels were in the same trap…and fighting each other.
Take two pills and call me...
I got bitten by a squirrel eight and a half years ago. It was a very expensive bandaid. Since then, medical codes have become more specific, including one just for squirrel bites. Note: there are also now codes for orca bites and spacecraft accidents.
Regina, Canada, is taking action to protect squirrels from electrocution, installing “squirrel savers” to transformers, and consequently preventing future power outages. Turns out in West Liberty, IA, costs of power outage due to squirrel are running up towards half a million dollars, and with an insurance company refusing to pay, the city has to fork out another $5K for a consultant to research the claim.
And last year in Bryan and College Station, TX, squirrels caused over 300 power outages, leaving rodents responsible for around 30% of all power outages in the area.
To add to the mix, a squirrel started a brush fire in Camas, WA.
Power outages and more
Squirrels caused people to lose their power in Grand Rapids, MI, Topeka, KS, South Strand, SC, Grand Island, NE, North Fargo, ND, Montreal, and Signal Hill, CA, and just to stick it to the man a little bit more, squirrels took out police surveillance cameras in Newark, MD.
Squirrels…they’re just like us…they can:
They can hang from their back legs (okay, we can’t do this very well)
They do handstands!
They sit on swings…
Squirrels world-wide have apparently been on a collective, crazy, aggressive rampage:
A German squirrel was “arrested” for chasing a woman, only to be fed honey and apples once officers realized he was just exhausted.
Squirrels are busier than ever, with recent power outages reported in Hingham, MA, Louisville, KY, Roanoke, VA, Lubbock, TX, Dayton, OH, Everett, WA, Kingston, NH, Meriden, CT, College Station, TX (officials said the squirrel was “electrocuted”), and Piedmont, AL, where the mayor held up the fried squirrel for display.
I've reported on many power outages caused by squirrels, and now I have been the victim of one.
Cats and Squirrels is off to the Big Apple for a six-day-vacay! Back next week!