Tag Archives: endangered species

There was so much squirrel news that it didn't fit into 2017. So we're starting off 2018 with the last bits of my squirrel roundup!! 

Red squirrel vs Gray squirrel – the battle continues

Good news for the red squirrel in the Highlands of Scotland where a reintroduction project seems to be meeting with success. The endangered squirrels were all but extinguished in the area, due to habitat loss and competition with the larger, more robust gray squirrel. Next year researchers will begin monitoring the populations stability.

Locals are asked to report any sightings of gray squirrels, who are the “arch enemy” of red squirrels. However, those sightings typically lead to killings – as gray squirrels are invasive and spread squirrel pox – which they are not susceptible to – but is deadly to red squirrels. Not everyone in the UK is on board with this plan to cull the population of grays, with over 120,000 people signing a petition to end the practice.

Northern Ireland is engaged with its own conservation efforts, and the Belfast zoo recently celebrated the arrival of five baby squirrels (known as kittens). And these tiny but mighty creatures led the forestry agency in Northern Ireland to give up plans to build a new road as it would directly encroach on red squirrel turf.

In Canada, biologists have been observing the spread of gray squirrels in urban areas. These squirrels no longer rely on the yearly tree mast to survive; instead the spread of their population seems to be highly related to the presence of bird feeders. With few predators (primarily raptors and owls), squirrels continue their march toward world dominance. Or least being one of the most successful invasive species around.

Squirrels in history - Cute lepers

DNA testing confirmed that a UK woman who died approximately 1000 years ago perished from a strain of leprosy that was also found in Sweden and Denmark. This strain is a close relative to the one that many red squirrels carry in the modern era. Scientists hypothesize that it was humans' love of squirrel fur that may have been their downfall -- and that they trade in squirrel pelts and meat from the Vikings led to the British pandemic in the 11th century. For the squirrels, it may have just been sweet revenge.

(Oh and the Cute Lepers are a band that I think is pretty good. And a good band name!)

And speaking of cute...

Nothing gets people going like animals doing things that are human-like. Sure, a picture of a squirrel in a tree is cute, but get them to do something like push a tiny shopping cart, and the crowd goes wild. Perhaps the squirrels are playing Quidditch, or musical instruments! These British squirrels are living in the lap of luxury, while other industrious squirrels are hard at work using tools. Of course, these internet obsessions say much more about us humans than about squirrels (although they are very easy manipulated for photo ops with food)!!

Squirrels getting stoned?

As recreational pot becomes legal today in California, I’m sure many people can relate. Even squirrels need a break from reality once in a while. This squirrel ate some mushrooms and “checked out.” The internet claims he was taken to a vet and recovered. Regardless, the mushrooms had a serious effect on the squirrels (not sure it was so fun for the squirrel).

And you thought squirrels were clean-cut. A woman in a British churchyard was taking pictures of her toddler feeding squirrels, until she noticed one squirrel enjoying a nut alongside a syringe. No word on whether squirrels are eligible for harm reduction programs.

 

Late and Breaking Crime Report!

Police were called to a home in New York where a squirrel had broken into a home. The squirrel was in the kitchen eating cookies when the police arrived.

And that concludes the squirrel roundup -- until next time!! Happy New Year!! May 2018 be a good one for everyone!

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

squirrelattackThe 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.

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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.

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Urban snacking

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,

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but some like tomatoes

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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.

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Squirrels and science

Virus discovery credited in part to squirrels

Scientists studying a seed that had apparently touched a squirrel’s nest found a new giant virus. Note: the original manuscript makes no references to squirrels, nests or seeds.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Dead Squirrels

Eating squirrels

I admit, I gagged a little at some of the pictures from the recent Squirrel Cook Off.

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Dog with dead squirrel

Why? I don’t know.

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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.

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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.

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Hunting accidents

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.

Stuck squirrels

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.

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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...

biteI 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.

 

 

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3 Comments

It's been a while since I've updated you on the latest squirrel news, and there's a lot to say!

How did this squirrel get on a plane?

customsA stowaway on a flight from Costa Rica, this baby squirrel was turned over to US Fish & Wildlife. What happens to foreign squirrels? This one is going to be rehomed by the Houston Zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

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The cuteness may not last long, thanks to climate change

Everyone on the internet is agog over the adorable ila pika, an endangered small mammal that is part of the taxonomic order Lagomorpha (rabbits are also Lagomorphs). The ila pika is undeniably cute and undeniably in trouble. Due to climate change, these little guys are moving higher and higher to find snow. This is the first photograph of an ila pika in 20 years.

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Crime and squirrels

A mummified squirrel body was discovered nailed to a tree in Ottawa, Canada.

and a police officer was called to assist with a “trapped squirrel.” It’s not clear from the report where exactly this squirrel was stuck. But I love small town police logs! Teens sneaking out of the house! Stolen chainsaws! Men fighting over tin cans! Suspicious persons!

More dried up squirrels

taxied

 

Someone paid $70K for a pair of taxidermied, boxing squirrels. That’s what I’d call disposable income.

 

 

 

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