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It's been a while since I've updated you on the latest squirrel news, and there's a lot to say!
How did this squirrel get on a plane?
Squirrels flirt with death
Twiggy, the squirrel known for her waterskiing skills, had a brush with disaster during a performance when a speaker toppled into the pool she was skiing in. Luckily, Twiggy was only frightened, and no one was injured.
and some lose...
One squirrel avoided injury after ending up on the racetrack at an international NASCAR event. But a second squirrel (monkey see, monkey do?) was squished when he ventured out on the raceway.
Squirrels get drunk
Squirrel Slam not illegal
Despite protests, petitions and threatening the filing of a lawsuit, local squirrel lovers in upstate New York could not stop the yearly “Squirrel Slam,” a fundraising hunting contest that awards prizes to those who bad the greatest number of squirrels. A county judge tossed the case out of court, although an appeal has been filed. For now, the slam must go on.
Pest Control in Riverside
Those pesky fox squirrels (my research subjects) are an invasive species. They can’t help it that they are cute. In SoCal, they are leading to massive numbers of complaints to the city (for among other things, eating bird seed and avocados), resulting in legislative changes that as of April 21st will allow people to kill squirrels on their property. Poison and shooting aren’t allowed, so it’s not clear how people will humanely kill squirrels, should they choose to do so. Perhaps a trap-neuter-return protocol could work?
…and in case you want to shoot some squirrels
Here’s a handy guide to the six best guns for shooting squirrels. Frowny face.
…or eat some squirrels
Chicken of the tree - it’s hipper than foie gras. Squirrel meat is a hot item in the UK, and a restaurant has added squirrel pie to its menu. As I like to say, I’m vegetarian and do not condone hunting or eating squirrels. I just report the facts.
This week in cute
The never ending cuteness of anthropomorphic squirrel photo shots! These red squirrels play with snowballs and take pictures of each other:
This squirrel eats with a fork. So human like.
Is this a new species, the Squirtle?
And this squirrel is eating a donut. That can’t be good.
Taxidermied squirrels have been all over the internet these past few weeks. I find it kind of disturbing, but I guess it falls into the cute category?
Squirrel almost causes fire
Firefighters believe that chewed wires may have sparked some smoke in an attic in Croydon, a town in South London.
and a squirrel started a grass fire in Emporia, Kansas. No injuries reported, except maybe to the squirrel.
Squirrel stuck in basement
A police log from Salem, MA reports a report of a squirrel in someone’s basement. The window was left open so the squirrel could leave on its own.
And a man in Manhattan claimed a “pack” of baby squirrels broke into his house by chewing through his window screen. Then it sounded like maybe a mom squirrel built a nest in his couch? He claims they bit and scratched him, and he received a tetanus shot, and the landlord will send an exterminator next week. Is that soon enough?
Exotic pet squirrels kill breeders how?
You might ask why people would be breeding squirrels? This is the deep, dark world of the exotic pet trade. In Germany, three squirrel breeders died from encephalitis, at least one of their squirrels carried bornavirus, and the European CDC is investigating a possible link between the virus and the breeders’ deaths.
Squirrels and Bird Feeders
Are there no depths that squirrels will not go to, in order to get to a bird feeder? Check out this jump!
Can you really keep squirrels away from your bird feeder?
Both bird experts and readers share their tips for keeping squirrels away from a bird feeder. Among my favorite suggestions: greased poles and the “Twirl a Squirrel” feeder.
Speaking of the Twirl a Squirrel – check out this video.
I think this squirrel was hanging out with the donut-eater.
This squirrel may have spent too much time at the bird feeder.
Squirrels of all colors
People seem to be fascinating with non-brown squirrels. In Florida, people were fascinating by a gray squirrel with “pigmentation issues”
And a legendary Canadian white squirrel showed its face and relieved neighbors who thought perhaps there were none left in the area.
Winter might make us all crazy…
In California we’ve had no winter to speak of. The East Coast, on the other hand, was brutalized. Despite the chill, no squirrels were found frozen to the ground in mass numbers in Buffalo (as was rumored on the internets), even if they were really really cold.
The UK is always excited about squirrels. A recent report that a woman’s car was running slow due to a squirrel storing several nuts in the engine (“under the bonnet”) immediately aroused my suspicion.
Why I don’t believe it: squirrels are scatter-hoarders, meaning they bury every nut in a different location. That makes it highly unlikely that the culprit for this caper was a squirrel.
Conservation and Science Corner
Flying Squirrel surveys
Scientists in Wyoming are using baited nest boxes and infrared cameras to survey the local population of flying squirrels.
And in the Carolinas, scientists are using GPS to track nesting behaviors and determine how to best conserve the endangered flying squirrel. Fires and human development have encroached on the flying squirrel’s turf, forcing the squirrels up to the higher habitats of mountaintops.
The Royals show up for red squirrels, once again. Do their press agents tell them that being seen with the red squirrel will help their image?
There’s an app for that: a new website will help folks report sightings of red and grey squirrels in Scotland, recording GPS location and allowing more detailed tracking of population changes. Go to scottishsquirrels.org.uk
Gray Squirrel Eradication
The British Island Anglesey trapped and killed a gray squirrel on a bridge before it could enjoy island living. Anglesey has officially declared itself “gray squirrel free” and the red squirrel is proliferating.
50 Shades of Gray
A mild winter might have led to a bump in the gray squirrel population in some other areas of the UK, where they are already considered a nuisance and a threat to the endangered red squirrel and local songbirds.
Ironically perhaps, in the US, some areas of Washington State are trying to protect gray squirrels: but not all of them! The Western Gray, the native squirrel species on the west coast has been victimized by the same species of squirrel the reds in the UK are victims to, the Eastern Gray. They look similar, but the Western Gray is slightly larger, with a bushier tail, and more “steely” colored fur.
Students at a Christian College in Minnesota have put radio collars on two dozen campus squirrels to track their activities. Read more about the research they are doing!