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
I'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!
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!
Controversial squirrel rescue causes more controversy
Last time I reported on Grace the disabled squirrel who a family had rescued and raised without a wildlife permit. Social media helped concerned folks get attention for this issue. The squirrel was seized by the state and brought to a wildlife rehab center. What is unclear is what will happen if Grace cannot be released back into the wild. Petitioners claim that in that case, the state will euthanize her instead of return her to her rescuers. Read about it here.
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?
Imagine you are a squirrel: Should you trust humans? Should you cross the street? How do you get ladies and food? Being a squirrel isn’t easy…but now there’s the “Squirrel Code” (spoofing something I’m obviously too old and unhip to know about) to help you survive. (May not be suitable for work)
In Nebraska City, a squirrel "put his feet where they shouldn't have been," leaving residents without power for an hour. One squirrel caused inconveniences for over 4000 people in Indiana, and a squirrel in Springfield, IL made contact with the power equipment "in the wrong way" (I think that is a euphemism for the squirrel's passing). Grand Rapids, MI also experienced a squirrel-related loss of power.
And finally, in Leatherland (somewhere in the UK), a squirrel started a fire after he "fried his brains out," and the short circuit triggered a fire in leaves nearby.
In case you are wondering, it's not squirrels' running on single power lines that causes the problems; it's almost always contact with two lines at the same time (even a paw on one, and a touch of the tail to the other) that causes the outages. A nice description of the problem here.
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
Someone paid $70K for a pair of taxidermied, boxing squirrels. That’s what I’d call disposable income.
Can a cat teach a squirrel to purr? Don't get too excited.
This video shows a very cute mama cat who is nursing an orphaned squirrel:
The story received over six million hits on Youtube, and there are lots of reasons we may find it irresistible: the cuteness of the animals involved; the “surprise” of a cat taking care of what would normally be potential prey – a baby squirrel; and the exotic-ness of raising a wild animal.
I'm about to dive into the Sante Fe Science Writing Workshop, but I didn't want anyone to be squirrel deprived...so here goes this week's This Week in Squirrels
Dog goes crazy...over a squirrel
Squirrels don't just make people crazy...they've got an effect on dogs too. If you haven't seen this cute video of a dog making some interesting sounds when he spots a squirrel, check this out!
Like everything else, squirrel hunting is big in Texas
Squirrels used to be the most popular game animal in Texas, which has no "bag limit." But changes in the habitat have made gray "cat" squirrels more elusive, and since they are legally considered game animals, there is no management of squirrel habitat in the Lone Star state. Deer hunters dominate the land, squeezing out squirrel hunting. But there are still plenty of folks who want to nosh on skillet fried squirrel.