Tag Archives: power outages

Squirrels Ruin Christmas

I think squirrels just might be my totem animal. Although I am prone to Grinch-like qualities when it comes to the holidays, I have never stolen any Christmas displays. I cannot say the same about my furry rodent friends.

See, Christmas falls right around the time when squirrels have been burying a lot of food, and holiday light bulbs are strangely acorn shaped. To that end, there have been several reports of squirrels stealing and burying Christmas bulbs. One squirrel in Seattle stole over 150 light bulbs in 24 hours, and even Boston Common’s Christmas tree was affected by squirrel thefts.

Canada could not escape the influence of rodents this holiday season, and in Keene NH, a Christmas tree was blown out by a gnawing squirrel.

Karin Brulliard at the Washington Post wrote a great summary on this very topic (and I’m excited to say I got to chat with her about it).

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I did say that I don’t think squirrels have a vendetta against Christmas, but perhaps they just wish everyone would say “Happy Holidays?”

Squirrels might have ruined Christmas, but Christmas saved one squirrel. When a squirrel got stuck down a chimney, a home owner provided him with a string of Christmas lights to shimmy his way to freedom.

Power outages and fires

Twenty customers in Kansas City lost power thanks to a squirrel, but squirrels recently left over a thousand folks without power in the UK. Squirrels caused fires in Fairbury, Nebraska and Allentown, PA (subsequently leaving 7000 folks without power).

Squirrels caused outages in Odessa, TX (trigger warning: a dead squirrel is visible in the photo), Exeter, NHWallingford, CT, and caused a grass fire in West Fork, AK.

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Stuck Squirrels

This German squirrel was too large to sneak out of a manhole. Even olive oil wasn’t enough to slide this guy out, although he was eventually rescued and treated for hypothermia.

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And in Boston, this squirrel was too large for the dog bone he stuck his head into.

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This squirrel got into a squirrel-proof bird feeder, but then could not get out.

On Wiggum Drive, in Leesburg, Virginia, animal control was called to help a squirrel who got stuck in the motor of a dryer.

Finally, a couple thought they had run over a squirrel. Turned out he got stuck under the car “bonnet” and took a several-hours long ride. The squirrel was rescued and did not appear to be harmed by the hitchhiking incident.

Squirrels and the law

A squirrel scratched and bit a contractor who was working on a home in Virginia. The man has since sued the home owners for $90,000, claiming that the squirrel is their pet and that they are responsible for his behavior. The home owners claim no such ownage of the squirrel.

A few years ago, a New York lawsuit over a "squirrel slam" (basically, a squirrel killing, I mean hunting, contest) was dismissed. But recently, the state appellate court determined that Justice Punch violated the plaintiff's rights when he dismissed their case. The squirrel slam is going back to court.

Police blotter

A man got mad at his brother, and then taped a knife to his hand. Apparently intending to stab his brother, he instead went outside and stabbed a squirrel. He was charged with animal cruelty. And I can't make this stuff up!

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A mutilated squirrel was left on a Rexburg, VA doorstep, and a man was caught burning a squirrel with a propane torch in South Dakota.

One squirrel came down a chimney and couldn't find his way back out. While inside, he destroyed some Christmas lights and chewed on a Fender guitar. He burrowed into a loveseat, rendering it useless. The squirrel eventually went back outside.

When this guy took his Lexus in for a tune-up, he got more than he bargained for. A squirrel was kind enough to leave him several walnuts under the hood.

A concerned citizen contacted police in Nevada to report a squirrel who was acting very oddly before it died. There were also calls to police regarding "Christmas lights from a house ...blinding drivers passing by," "someone drinking whiskey," and that someone's "crazy girlfriend was at it again, acting up and throwing things around."

A squirrel has been brazenly walking into a convenience store and helping himself to chocolate Kinder and Crunchie bars without paying. Attempts to retrieve stolen goods by chasing the thief were not successful.

It's not clear if squirrels are deliberately trying to harm humans, but they are gnawing on trees along a freeway in Ireland, which caused several branches to fall in front of cars as they drive by. The treacherous situation led officials to cut down several hundred trees. The resulting stumps have left locals less than thrilled.

A bar in Manchester, England has been a victim of a robbery - two lamps featuring taxidermied squirrels were recently stolen, and apparently the waiting list for replacements is four months long. The owners fear the lamps (or rather the dead squirrel bodies) will be too damaged to repair.

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Basically, I blink and two months have gone by and I have NOT REPORTED ON SQUIRREL ACTIVITY! In case you'd like to know what I have been up to, some shameless self-reporting here:

feldmanI recently spoke with comedian David Feldman about...cats, cats, and more cats.

 

 

 

 

 

And the Berkeley Newscenter recently interviewed me about my research on the food-storing behavior of squirrels.

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The squirrels do not find studying squirrels to be an adequate excuse for not reporting on squirrels.

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Power problems

poweroutAlthough I’ve been too busy to write about squirrel antics, it doesn’t mean they have been laying around doing nothing! As usual, power outages have been reported all over the country! Squirrels may have knocked out your power recently if you live in the following places: North Maketo, IAComstock Park, MIRedding, CTSpringfield, MAWauwatosa, WIGrand Rapids, MIKinnelon, NJMountain Home, IDKalispell, MTConcord, NHMonroe, CTAshville, NCCape Girardeau, MOMilwaukee, WITalahassee, FLSunnyside, WANew Orleans, LA, and for the third time in one month: Bay City, MI.

Squirrels went international with power outages in Vancouver, and Kelowna, British Columbia as well as in Brazil. And journalists can't get enough of  cyber-squirrel attacks, with recent features about squirrel related power outages in Slate, as well as how independent microgrids limit the damage squirrels can do.

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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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I have really fallen behind on my squirrel news reporting responsibilities, and there has been SO MUCH squirrel news, that this week will require two posts to catch up. Today, a lot of power outages, squirrels and food, and squirrels in schools and squirrel rescue. Stay tuned for Part II, which will feature A LOT of squirrels and crime, squirrels and sports, this week in cute, and MUCH MORE!

Annoying squirrels for science

slateI'm very excited that my research examining fox squirrels' responses to a frustrating task has finally been published. This was my first study in graduate school, and although my research questions have changed a lot since then, I had a lot of fun with this one! I spoke with Rachel Gross at Slate about my study, you can read all about it here!

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Appetite for Destruction

Squirrels turn off the lights

Squirrel related power outages were reported in: Greenfield, WI, Danbury, CT, Muncie, IN, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tulsa, OK, Glenpool, OK, Lee County, TX, Columbia, SC, and Pinewood, Ontario.

But it’s not just squirrels

Other wildlife may be to blame, including possums, racoons and even the occasional bird that gets into a power substation.

Why do they do it?

Attraction to warmth and lack of traffic (which presents less of an obstacle) are factors that lead squirrels to the wires.

Fire starters

A squirrel started a fire in a garage in Traverse City, MI, losing its life in the process; and burned down a home in South Nashville.

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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!

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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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Squirrel Disruptions

Squirrel related power-outages were reported in Verona, WI, Eagle Mountain, UT (where the squirrel was “roasted”),  Windsor, Ontario (where the squirrel survived!), and Edmond, OK.

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.

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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:

Carry a large towel up a tree

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They can hang from their back legs (okay, we can’t do this very well)

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They do handstands!

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They sit on swings

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And sit on even more swings!

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