This week in squirrels July 14, 2014

Power outages

Squirrels contributed to two power outages in Portland, OR in one week, and PG&E crews there are considering "wildlife guards" to prevent squirrels from entering substations, since 18% of power outages there can be blamed on animals. One of these power outages was blamed for two car accidents. Squirrels were also later falsely accused of a power outage in nearby Clackamas County, but it turned out to be an equipment failure.

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.

Squirrels and crime

"Malicious Injury to a Place of Worship"

chyurchThis guy put a dead squirrel in a church's mailbox. He has been arrested. The best part is the note attached: "This squirrel is about as alive as your beloved Christ.  Hail Satan!  Hail Odin!  Hail Anarchy!"


Cats and squirrels and...a turtle?

A drunken driver blamed a squirrel, cat and turtle for causing his car crash. Apparently they were hanging out in the road together and he had to swerve to avoid them. Sounds reasonable, don't you think?

Golden squirrel stolen......and returned

A $1000 reward was offered after a gilt squirrel was stolen from a restoration shop yard in Claverack, NY. Police went door to door to aid in the search for the stolen squirrel and the squirrel statue made it's way back to the lawn the following Tuesday.

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Squirrels and the law

Feeding squirrels is now a crime in Berkeley

As I predicted, the Berkeley City Council's decision to kill off ground squirrels did not go down without a fight (and a change of heart). Over 81,000 people wrote letters protesting the city's decision to cull squirrels, who were burrowing into dirt near the Berkeley Marina, increasing the risk of toxins leaking into the Bay.

The latest strategy? Ban the feeding of wildlife (thankfully I have a research permit!). The Berkeley City Council also now has a "squirrel subcommittee." Sometimes I say, "only in Berkeley." This could be one of those times.

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Vampire squirrel - big tail; no blood-sucking

Despite its name, the vampire squirrel does not prey on innocent victims, sucking their veins dry. They likely eat normal squirrel stuff (as omnivores, this likely includes nuts and seeds, insects, flower buds, mushrooms and even birds' eggs. What makes the vampire squirrel so notable is it's fluffy tail - the fluffiest in the animal kingdom (by percent of body size).

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Flying squirrel prefers skateboarding to get around

sk8This flying squirrel fell out of a nest and is being rehabbed - not sure if she is going to be a pet or be set free (hopefully she's well enough for the latter, but this is in Florida after all...). Apparently part of her physical therapy involves riding a skateboard...


And some just love a good ol' fashioned assault course

This squirrel obstacle course will amaze and impress you - squirrels demonstrate great agility and curiosity. There's also some humorous commentary for the video. Check it out here.

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What is leucism?

Leucism is a lack of pigmentation that affects all skin pigments (as opposed to albinism which only affects melanin). This white squirrel was described as having "sinister" eyes, which I think is ridiculous.

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Wayward Marmot heads home

marmotA marmot is just a big, adorable squirrel. They typically live in high elevations, so when one was spotted in a San Francisco neighborhood, folks knew something was amiss. They trapped the little guy with Newman's organic fig newtons (this is San Francisco, after all) and sent him back to Yosemite.

Your cute fix(es) of the week

It never hurts to take a moment to enjoy your surroundings

snffA squirrel sniffing flowers? Yes.



Baby red squirrel being rehabbed at the zoo

redsqUK resident Kitty was found on the ground by a dog walker - this precious little red squirrel is being rehabbed until she can be released back into the wild. Read more here.



Where are they now?

taterI previously told you about Tater, the dog who was impaled chasing a squirrel back in March. Turns out he's doing just fine now.

I also  shared the story of a woman in Maine who was busted with wild animals as pets (including a squirrel named Tommy she had neutered herself). An update to the case: She has been denied an appeal to get her "pets" back, after claiming they were her therapy animals. Tommy and a blue jay that was also seized are currently being cared for at a wildlife rehabilitation center.



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