This week in squirrels June 30, 2014

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.

 

 

 

 

One squirrel lounges in the pool...

swimming squirrelA woman in Massachusetts has observed a squirrel doggy-paddling in her pool – and he uses the pool ladder to get out too. Squirrels can swim, but not very well, and apparently many squirrels drown in pools. The woman claims this little guy enjoys “taking a dip.”

...while another almost drowns

Meanwhile, a squirrel was stuck in a reservoir until a kind soul took him to land.

 

Wildlife and garbage don't mix

A reminder for us all – don’t leave garbage out where wildlife can access it! This little squirrel got a paper cup stuck on his head and was panicking. Some students were able to catch the squirrel and remove the cup on his head. He then went on his merry way.

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This week in power outages

Squirrels recently caused power outages in Carthage (squirrel entering transformer), Coloma, MI (squirrel entering substation), Floresville, TX, ,  Bend, Oregon (note: the squirrel “did not survive”), Mountain View, CA (when the squirrel “encroached on a circuit breaker”), Portland OR, and Shasta Lake, CA (where a squirrel “came into contact with power lines”).

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If you build it, they will come…

bridgeThis holds true for bird feeders and squirrel bridges. Longview, WA has installed their fourth squirrel overpass, which allows squirrels to cross roads without being hit by cars. A fifth and six bridge are on the way.

…or stay away?

Orange, TX built a squirrel-proof fence around their power station to prevent the frequent power outages the fuzzy creatures are prone to causing. Only time will tell if it really works!

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Squirrels and sports

Squirrels are now practically regular baseball game attendees, but turns out they like golf too.  This squirrel interrupted both the men’s and women’s open.

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Cell phone robberies on the rise

And squirrels are getting in on the action. This man tried to film a squirrel on his phone, and the squirrel did not approve.

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What is that squirrel saying?

Perhaps you’ve wondered what the squirrels outside are going on about. A recent study examined how squirrels vary their alarm calls depending on the type of predator (aerial vs ground). You can read (and hear) more here!

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Conservation corner

One red squirrel has shown signs of resistance to the deadly squirrel pox virus, inspiring hope that gray squirrels (who carry squirrel pox but do not suffer ill effects) will not lead to the demise of their threatened tiny, red “cousins.”

A lawsuit has been filed against the US Fish & Wildlife Service, demanding greater protection for the flying squirrel. This tiny truffle-specialist has not been spotted in the San Bernadino Mountains for some time and may be eligible for “Endangered” status.

Dog hired to identify squirrels

spanielRory, a British cocker spaniel has been helping his owner identify whether the contents of a squirrel trap contain a gray squirrel (bad, must be destroyed! Rory barks vigorously!) or a red squirrel (good, must be rescued! Rory is silent). This is part of the ongoing struggle to protect the red squirrel from the invasive gray. Read about it here!

 

Orphaned squirrels grow up and leave the "nest"

Fostering an orphaned squirrel has its plusses (endless cuteness, helping wildlife) and minuses (they might eat your cookies).

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markymarkA man attends South by Southwest, finds an orphaned squirrel and leaves him for momma squirrel to find…the man goes to see Snoop Dogg, and comes back only to find the baby squirrel still waiting. What could he do but take him home to rehabilitate him? (Well, he could have taken him to wildlife rescue, but all’s well that ends well).

 

Squirrels interfering with pine tree recovery after fires

One of the most fascinating things about squirrels (in my opinion) is their co-evolution with their food source: various seed bearing trees. Squirrels bury seeds and nuts, and those that are forgotten or lost (due to squirrel mortality) have the opportunity to grow into more trees that provide more food for future squirrels and so on.

After forest fires, pine trees produce more “closed cones,” which do not open until another fire – sometimes decades after production. But squirrels seem to be eating these closed cones, meaning less cones are available to release their seeds after a forest fire, meaning less recovery of pine trees from major fires. And at some point, that plan might backfire on the squirrels.

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Squirrels and politics

I’m not a fan of either Tweedledum or Tweedledee (i.e. the Republican and Democratic party - I'm more of a lefty), but I am a little bummed that the Republicans decided that a squirrel was a good mascot, and are using all my favorite squirrel puns to further their “cause.”

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