Tag Archives: gray squirrels

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!

I’ll tell you, co-authoring a book, finishing your dissertation, and teaching do not leave a lot of time for blogging about squirrels. I’ve got about four months of squirrel news to catch you up on, and I hope you will not be disappointed.

Let’s start with the basics. Power outages:

A squirrel shut down the grid by chewing wires and starting fires in Luverne, MN. Hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people in Fargo ND, Omaha NE, Ashland OR, Blacklick, OH, Staten Island, Bangor ME, Nashville TN, Hamilton MN, Ripon, CA, Muskegon, MI, and Cedar Springs, MI lost power thanks to squirrels. A mere 250 people in Arkansas were left without power after a squirrel caused a power outage. A college campus in Mississippi, a high school in Chico CA, and an elementary school in Bovina, MS all got excused from class after squirrels shut them down.

In Springdale, PA, a “loose wire and a dead squirrel” caused lights to flicker on and off. Eugene OR suffered an outage when a squirrel’s tail “touched a second phase power line.” Translation: the squirrel was electrocuted and died.

A squirrel chewed on electrical wires in a home in Dekalb, GA, almost burning it down. Luckily the home owner was around when the sparks flew and no one was injured.

In international outages, folks in Hamilton in Canada and Chilwell in the UK also lost power in squirrel-related incidents.

But people aren’t just sitting back and letting squirrels shut down their power. After a squirrel caused a 10 HOUR power outage for over 6000 households in Sunnyside, WA, shutting down churches and restaurants, officials have vowed to “explore their options” to prevent this from happening again. In Guelph, Canada, the city is replacing old equipment and adding wildlife protection covers to stop the never-ending wave of power losses.

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Car Trouble

A man in Pennsylvania lost control of his car, crashing into a parked vehicle, claiming it was all because he was trying to avoid hitting a squirrel. A woman in South Carolina flipped her vehicle when she went off the side of the road, also trying to avoid hitting a squirrel. The driver’s comment: “I don’t like squirrels anymore.”

Luckily, a driver at the German racing event Nurburgring avoided hitting a squirrel who ran across the track. He also avoided injuring himself.

Squirrels love food

And people love squirrels who love food...especially if it is human food they love. Recently, squirrels have been observed enjoying pizza, tacos, and even French bread.

Folks at a golf course in North Carolina gained some internet notoriety for feeding a squirrel an Ice cream on a daily basis. “Putter” got her own tiny squirrel-sized cone of ice cream and returned the favor by giving birth to two babies. Only time will tell if they will also expect their own treats.

Planes, trains, and automobiles

A plane was delayed when a squirrel was found hanging out in the engine.

A squirrel caused some chaos when stuck on a London train;

 

And a man in Canada unknowingly gave a squirrel a ride in the backseat of his car.

Hunting corner

A woman in Tennessee spent over six months in the hospital after her husband shot her instead of  a squirrel. The husband mentioned that “God is good.”

A man in Staten Island was busted using a bow and arrow to hunt squirrels. He was charged with prohibited use of a weapon. Two teenagers in South Dakota face charges after discharging a weapon within city limits for firing a BB gun and killing a squirrel.

For the record, I am a vegetarian and don’t condone the eating of squirrels. But one British butcher is encouraging folks to give “squirrel on the barbie” a try.

Squirrel slam controversy

Folks in New York are still trying to get the “Squirrel Slam” hunting contest shut down. The squirrel slam offers prizes for those who “bag” the most squirrels. Opponents have tried to shut down the slam in court multiple times, and once again, they were dissed and dismissed. Sadly, the slam continues.

 

Inter-species interactions

Squirrels aren’t considered a particularly social species, and sometimes they have interactions with other animals…who aren’t squirrels!

Squirrel meets fish, cuteness ensues.

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This red squirrel narrowly missed a deadly encounter with a pine martin, but this squirrel did NOT miss a deadly encounter with a bobcat, and ended up “what’s for dinner.

 

Celebrity corner

Even celebrities can’t get enough of squirrels. Take Ty Segall and Kurt Vile, who each played musical squirrels on a TV show, Animals.

 

Well I love Ricky Gervais, and since he saved an injured squirrel, I love him even more!!

 

 

I have to admit I had no idea who Jeremy Kyle is, but I guess he’s famous in the UK. If you want to see a British celebrity impersonate a squirrel having sex, then this one is for you. Also, I'm not so sure his impersonation is very accurate.

Arts corner: Squirrel murals

 

OR “squirr-als”?? Two new squirrel murals have popped up – one in Dublin, Ireland, and one in Philadelphia. Pretty awesome.

 

This week in cute

Watch this squirrel climb up a slide, then take a ride! Some adorable rodent play in this video!

Gray squirrel cull controversy

The United Kingdom is one of the few areas where both gray and red squirrels exist. As I’ve reported before, this co-existence is a threat for red squirrels, as grays both take advantage of resources that reds also rely on, and spread squirrelpox, which red squirrels (but not grays) are susceptible to. The ongoing question is how to manage this threat to the endangered red squirrel. The answer has been massive culls, which is not without controversy. The Guardian wrote an in-depth report on the “volunteer army” who are trying to eliminate grays. Worth a read!

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Should we feed squirrels?

Given that controversy over squirrel feeding led to an attempted murder trial in Colorado (more on that next time!), it seems ironic that a Colorado town is taking up discussion on whether it should be legal to feed squirrels. An 80 year old man, Gaylord Sigman, in Loveland was cited for feeding squirrels, which caused an uproar from animal lovers. A neighbor complained about the squirrels burying peanuts (obtained from Sigman) in his yard. Apparently, Loveland’s ordinance about not feeding wild animals does not specifically mention squirrels, which has led to some controversy. City Council is still discussing the matter.

 

Coming up later this week: squirrels and sports, squirrels and crime, squirrel rescue and the Squirrel Science Corner!

You can’t make this stuff up

sqshootIn Colorado, a dispute arose over whether a man should be feeding local squirrels. Folks in the community were apparently concerned about the fact that he was feeding peanuts to the squirrels, which could be problematic to local children with nut allergies. These concerned neighbors posted flyers, and at some point a tete a tete between the squirrel feeder (Jon Barbour) and a neighbor occurred. Things escalated, the men accused each other of being “white trash,” punches were thrown, and Barbour consequently shot the neighbor in the buttocks. He called police to turn himself in, was arrested, and now faces attempted murder charges, and from 8-32 years in prison.

But the story doesn’t end there. Barbour defended his squirrel feeding frenzy (apparently leaving “pounds of peanuts” out for our twitchy friends) by explaining that feeding squirrels was how he communed with the spirits of his dead parents. I’ll be following this case, as the preliminary trial happens on June 9th.

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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!

Canada's got em...

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The UK's got them...

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Wales has em...

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And everyone's got something to say about it!

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Then shamed for not making a jump

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But it’s not just the chubby ones who have a problem!

jumpfail

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It's been over a month since I updated you on squirrel news, and it appears that squirrels have been very busy since then.

Squirrel Damages

The historical Derby Summer House in Massachussetts is in critical state, due to damage ccaused by squirrel chewing. Subsequent water damage and squirrel poo equals over $200K in repairs needed to be done.

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Squirrels also seem to like a Nebraska City building that houses the passport office and juvenile services. Nests and squirrel poo were found above the ceilings throughout the building, leading to a major cleanup and remodel.

A house fire near Chicago was caused by a burning squirrel nest in the attic: was the squirrel drunk and smoking in the nest?

A driver swerved to avoid a cat chasing a squirrel and hit a fire hydrant. No word on if the cat or squirrel were okay.

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People were not so lucky in Florida, where a squirrel caused four car pile-up and a death, after a driver stopped in traffic to avoid hitting the rodent.

Squirrel-related deaths in history: 60 years ago a boy was killed by squirrel poison on a Northern California island.

Adding to the list of diseases that squirrels may carry (such as West Nile and the Plague…) squirrels have now been identified as carriers of Lyme disease. And this is just one reason you should not pet wild squirrels!

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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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When a squirrel enters your house and eats your fig newtons, what to do?

This article recounts one woman’s experience of a squirrel breaking into her home, turning on the water, eating her fig newtons, and then taking a nap in her bed. Moral of the story: don’t panic, call animal control, then find a way to keep them from coming back in!

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Squirrel Drug-Running

A Russian squirrel took off with a baggie of drugs, teens chase, police get curious...you can't make this stuff up.

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Does this squirrel dress better than most college students?

Sneezy the campus squirrel has gained notoriety (and much media coverage) for her high tolerance for being dressed in cute outfits. A "squirrel whispering" student at Penn State has even turned this squirrel's cuteness into an enterprise, including a Facebook page with over 25,000 "likes." Is this squirrel-sploitation or just ridiculously cute? Is this putting Berkeley squirrels to shame?

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Ground squirrel too tubby; gets stuck in own burrow

Stocking up for the winter is a good thing, unless it's too much of a good thing, as in the case of this ground squirrel. Luckily he was helped out by some passers-by.

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Squirrel flirts with death at NASCAR race

In another "squirrel vs sports" moment, a squirrel almost got squished by sprinting across the racetrack at a recent NASCAR event.

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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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