This week in squirrels December 22, 2014

This week's cute and bizarre

We humans are a little self-obsessed, we just love images of squirrels doing things we do

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sqlordsI think maybe if I used recreational drugs, this video would have been even funnier. I can’t even really understand it.

Power outages

Over 7000 were left without power in Tampa, FL when a squirrel busted into a substation, and a second squirrel (lack of social learning) made the same fatal error the next day, again sending Floridians into a powerless state.

The electric company took action – installing new plastic guards all over the substation (note: squirrels can chew through plastic), that the power company claims will protect from squirrels, frogs, snakes, and birds.

Oklahoma suffers at the hands of squirrels: A squirrel “penetrated a wildlife barrier”  to leave a few thousand folks without power, and another squirrel cancelled a basketball game.

A squirrel left highways dark in Alabama, and left 6,218 homes without power in Tennessee.

Finally, squirrels sent folks in Rim County, AZ into the technological dark ages, making people “nuts” when they didn’t have phone, internet or TV services! Folks suspect it was a squirrel chewing on a fiber optic line that caused the service interruption that impacted stores, banks, hospitals and other emergency services.

Children and squirrels

Kids today! Only three percent of children ages 3 to 6 in the United Kingdom could identify a photograph of a  red squirrel (can we blame the grey squirrel for this somehow?). They were much better at naming farm and jungle animals, with around half being able to identify lions, monkeys and cows.

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Squirrels in Oakland are wreaking havoc at Children’s Fairyland, an amusement park known for its rides and displays. Now it is also known for troublemaking squirrels, who eat the faces off the displays, climb people’s pant legs and destroy the irrigation system, with damages reaching in the zone of thousands of dollars. Execs are working with ecologists at Alameda Vector Control to devise a plan to trap the squirrels, killing some and sterilizing others; the rest of the solution involves convincing people not to keep feeding our fluffy friends.

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Squirrel steals muffins, spoils Christmas

A family came home to find that their mail had been tampered with – by a squirrel – who ripped open a box of muffins and helped herself. Who orders muffins in the mail?

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Nutty Narrows: A historical landmark

The fifty-year old bridge in Longview Washington has qualified for entry into the National Registry of Historic Places. What makes this bridge special? It was built to help squirrels navigate above traffic, reducing car-related squishing. The town has since added three more squirrel bridges.

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Science corner

Squirrel pee: the downfall of humanity?

Arctic ground squirrels heat up their burrows in part by mixing their urine and feces with the soil, fertilizing it and raising the local temps. This may have the effect of increase the release of carbon and methane, suggesting that ground squirrels could be having more of an effect on climate change than previously thought.

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How stress helps baby squirrels

Ben Dantzer has been exposing red squirrel moms in Michigan to differing levels of stress (the sounds of other squirrels chattering – the thought being that increased population has a negative effect on these “non-social” animals). Stressed out moms had babies that grew faster and had a higher rate of survival, suggesting that some stress if not such a bad idea. More studies to come with radiotracking!

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The hunting and eating corner

Fight breaks out over squirrel hunting

A man in Wisconsin attacked (or restrained, depending on whose side you are taking) another man who had wandered onto his property while hunting squirrels (or who pointed a gun on the property owner, depending on whose side you are taking).

Cook a squirrel without setting your home on fire

A year ago or so, a man set his apartment building on fire using a blowtorch to cook a squirrel. Don’t do that. Here’s some tips on proper, safe, squirrel cookery.

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deerbaitand a man took advantage of “deer-baiting”  - the practice of leaving massive piles of food out to attract hunting-victims (squirrel-baiting is illegal) – which inadvertently attracted some squirrels – who inadvertently ended up on this man’s dinner table.

 

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