Saturday, September 20, 2008

Squirrels Help Stroke Victims

Hibernating Squirrels Provide
Clues For Stroke, Parkinson’s

A compound that enables squirrels to hibernate may one day help minimize brain damage that results from stroke, according to a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia and Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta. It only seems fair since squirrels cause so many people to have strokes in the first place!

Other related squirrel studies involve experiments that could someday help suppress human appetites, or even save lives on the battlefield.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if squirrels helped man suppress his appetite.

Monday, September 8, 2008


There is a very simple answer to squirrels gaining entrance to squirrel-proof feeders. The process is called "osquirrelamosis." This is the tendency of a squirrel to pass through a semipermeable membrane, like your feeder, into a concentrated space which then equalizes the feeding conditions on either side of the membrane.

This process is not fully understood by birdfeeder manufacturers at this time, so their claims of providing squirrel-proof birdfeeders are not quite dishonest. Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that these devices don’t work.

I am not trying to tell you squirrel-proof feeders are a waste of money because they do work on some squirrels. It is believed that some squirrels are not osmotic. Osmosis is a very complicated process, and many squirrels are just not mentally up to the task of physically performing the necessary osmotic steps that enable them to gain access to squirrel-proof feeders.

Your best defense is a good offense. Put out several nice squirrel feeders far away from the house if you do not want them hanging around harassing your birds. In most cases they will stay out and work the feeders that can be accessed without using the energy-draining osmosis procedure. But remember, when your squirrels are out of sight they are also out of minding distance.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Britain Trying to Save the Red

LONDON—British conservationists launched a campaign to save the country's native red squirrels against their disease-carrying, food-stealing and bigger grey cousins from North America.

Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain in the late 19th century and now outnumber Red squirrels 66 to 1. The smaller reds are now rarely seen outside northern England and Scotland. So conservationists are taking a hand. Red Alert North England, which includes representatives of wildlife trusts, the Forestry Commission and landowners, is focusing on creating 16 red squirrel reserves across the forests of Northumberland, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Merseyside in northern England.

Richard Pow, chairman of the group, said: "We will be combining their resources and expertise to try to ensure that this extraordinary creature survives in England into the next century," Pow said."This project is a fantastic example of a wide range of organizations uniting to deliver something that I know is close to the hearts of the people of northern England," he said. The woodland reserves chosen offer red squirrels the best chance of survival. The forests will be managed to support populations of red squirrels, but care will be taken that they do not include the kinds of plants that the gray squirrels' higher energy diet demands. Grey squirrels will be relegated to "buffer zones" surrounding the reserves, Pow said, and local people will be taught how to conserve the reds in the 1 million-pound (US$1.8 million; euro1.5 million) project.

Red squirrels, immortalized by British children's author Beatrix Potter as the engaging, nut-obsessed "Squirrel Nutkin," were once common in gardens and woodlands across Britain before coming under threat from the grey variety, which steals the reds' food and carries the squirrel-pox virus.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Flying Squirrels

IDYLLWILD - The U.S. Forest Service wants residents of the mountain communities to build a nesting box for the flying squirrels in the San Jacinto Wilderness.
While residents may not meet Rocky, who wore an aviator’s cap in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, they might be some of the first people to see one in a while.
Forest officials said the squirrels, which are still abundant in the Big Bear, Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe areas, may have moved to higher elevations.
Having a flat tail and a flap of skin from its ankle to its wrist, a flying squirrel can glide as far as 75 feet.
The flying squirrel has an extra flap of skin from its ankle to its wrist and a flat tail that helps it glide as far as 75 feet.
"Could people up there see them and not know what they are? Yes!" said Anne Poopatanapong, district wildlife biologist for the San Bernardino National Forest San Jacinto Ranger District. "We often assume, because we do not see things during normal business hours, that they are not there. Maybe, people just don’t notice them."
The small grayish-brown squirrel has not been seen in the San Jacinto Mountains during the recent past, she said.
There was a report of one flying past a motorist near Mountain Center south of Idyllwild.
Another sighting came from a couple driving between Palm Desert and Pinyon Pines. The last report came from a woman driving along Highway 74 toward Hemet.
Forest officials just finished trying to trap a few of the animals in the wilderness near Devil’s Slide and Skunk Cabbage in the Tahquitz Valley about three miles from Humber Park. None were found, Poopatanapong said.
Poopatanapong, who worked with the animals on her master’s thesis, said she thinks the squirrel’s habitat may have gotten drier and the population may have moved to cooler and higher elevations — about 7,000 feet.
The species may also be tough to notice because they are nocturnal, arboreal or tree-living squirrels, she said.
Flying squirrels such as this one are numerous in the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe and Big Bear areas. However, according to a biologist, the small, grayish-brown nocturnal squirrel has not been sighted in the San Jacinto Mountains recently.
Melissa Caughey, executive director for Animal Ambassadors exotic animal sanctuary in the Inland Empire, said she also believes there is a good chance flying squirrels are doing well.
"Anything is possible with the way the climate has been," Caughey said. "Any species when faced with change will adapt and overcome to survive."
Harry Morse, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Game, said it is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine to capture, keep or sell the animals. Licensed rehabilitation facilities are the exception, he added.
"I put them right up at the top ... they are unique creatures," said Morse, adding there is probably no population count because they are nocturnal and avoid humans.
The flying squirrel’s specialized diet consists of hypogeal fungi (truffles that are underground) but they can also survive on seeds, mushrooms, berries and other foods, Poopatanapong said. Its main predators are owls.
For those who want to help Poopatanapong and her staff, free fliers with simple instructions on how to build a 10-by-7-inch wooden nesting box are available. The access hole must be 1.5 inches in diameter and no paint or stain can be used. The box must also be placed on a backboard and a hinged cleaning hole is suggested.
Other animals that might use the nesting box include tree frogs, hornets and mice, so care should be taken during cleaning.
Jimmy Adams, who said he has hiked between Idyllwild and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for years, will keep both eyes peeled and his digital camera ready.
"Wow ... oh my ... my," said Adams, of Valle Vista, as he stopped to buy extra water and other necessities before his hike. "I hope I see one in my lifetime. Unbelievable."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SquirreLovers are Nuts About Squirrels--Shocking Story

This is just one of many stories that hit the news daily about kamakazi squirrels that are shocked to find out they make an excellent ground:

A wily squirrel knocked out power to 3,600 homes, businesses and schools in Great Falls, Montana.
Northwestern Energy spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch said around 9:35 a.m., a squirrel got into the east side substation, causing the substation and the five circuits attached to it to shut down.
Power was knocked out at East Middle School, Great Falls High and Chief Joseph, Lincoln and Mountain View elementary schools. Holy Spirit Catholic School, where students were taking IOWA Basic tests also lost power.Rapkoch said power was restored around 10 a.m."Squirrels are little creatures that are very active, so they’re able to get into this equipment," she said. "It’s not uncommon that they cause power outages."

SquirreLovers are Nuts About Squirrels--Squirrel Plague

A rash of squirrel deaths from plague in the middle of Colorado’s largest city has heightened surveillance for the deadly but curable disease. No humans here have been infected with plague, the "Black Death" disease that killed millions in 14th-century Europe. A state hotline gets 50-75 calls daily about dead rodents. Chris Urbina, Denver’s health director, says the risk of catching it "is extremely low." One human case has been reported in the USA this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 49-year-old man in San Juan County, N.M., was hospitalized last week and is recovering. A flu-like illness that occurs most often in lymph nodes or the blood, plague is treatable with antibiotics. Denver’s last outbreak in rodents was nearly 40 years ago. So far, 13 squirrels have been found dead in or near City Park, an urban playground 2 miles from the state Capitol. Two infected squirrels and an infected rabbit were found dead in Denver suburbs. Plague bacteria are carried by fleas that infect wild rodents, rabbits and cats, usually in rural areas. Plague reached the USA in the 19th century in rats on ships. It exists today only in the West, mainly in four states: New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. ‘Suicide’ Squirrels
Squirrels have also been in the news recently for causing power outages by electrocuting themselves on power lines.
Infected fleas can jump onto animals or humans. Coyotes, foxes and birds that feed on an infected carcass can transport the fleas but are resistant to plague. John Pape, an epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, suspects that is how it got into town. He says the Denver occurrence is not an "outbreak" but warrants tracking. City workers this week caught 17 squirrels for testing. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports 10-20 people a year catch plague in the USA. On average, one in seven dies.
"We’re always on watch," says Deborah Busemeyer of the New Mexico Department of Health. The state had an above-normal year in 2006: Eight cases and three deaths. Pape says plague is more common in New Mexico than Colorado, where the last death was in 2004, one of three infections that year. Plague season runs from April to November during periods of moisture and moderate temperature. Among pets, dogs are resistant but cats are highly susceptible. "Right now is a good time to keep cats inside," says Diane Milholin, a Denver health inspector. "Your dog is not going to get sick from a flea, but if the flea stays on the dog and decides to bite you, you could get sick."