Friday, December 12, 2008
Crouching tufty, hidden dragon: The amazing Kung Fu squirrels
"Their mean and moody expressions suggest: Go on, punk, make my day.
And when any rival is foolish enough to stray on to their territory, the result is terrifying.
In scenes more like a violent Quentin Tarantino movie than a wildlife shoot, one Cape ground squirrel delivers a ferocious attack on an interloper."
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
"Botanist Rod Simmons thought he was going crazy when couldn't find any acorns near his home in Arlington County, Virginia. 'I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe,' said Simmons. Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill. Simmons and Naturalist Greg Zell began to do some research and found Internet discussion groups, including one on Topix called 'No acorns this year,' reporting the same thing from as far away as the Midwest up through New England and Nova Scotia. 'We live in Glenwood Landing, N.Y., and don't have any acorns this year. Really weird,' wrote one. 'None in Kansas either! Curiouser and curiouser.' The absence of acorns could have something to do with the weather and Simmons has a theory about the wet and dry cycles. But many skeptics say oaks in other regions are producing plenty of acorns, and the acorn bust is nothing more than the extreme of a natural boom-and-bust cycle. But the bottom line is that no one really knows. 'It's sort of a mystery,' Zell said."
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Squirrels at the University of California-Davis have it made.
5300 acres of lush habitat.
The eastern fox squirrel is living large on the University of California Davis campus. Wildlife scientists will use a contraceptive vaccine to try to control the population. Photo courtesy UC Davis
(And we’re not talking the average “frugal student” ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly. UC-Davis is home to The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.)
With nary a predator, there’s been a population explosion of the non-native eastern fox squirrels, from zero to about 400 in the past seven years. And now there’s worry the critters might get more aggressive, biting the collegiate hands that feed them. Squirrels can carry bacteria that is harmful to humans. And an unchecked population could become a threat to the regional economy, spreading to nearby farmland and chomping away at the local fruits and nuts.
When college officials searched for answers to these potential nuisances, they had to go no further than scientists on campus.
And as one might expect from a campus in California, the plan is to control the population with no harm to the animals involved.
“This new birth control method may potentially help control squirrels or other species, such as white tailed deer,” said Sara Krause, a doctoral student in ecology who designed the plan.
“If we can test a birth control method and find it safe and effective, there’s a possibility of it being a breakthrough method in both urban and suburban areas,” she said.
Continued unchecked procreation and expansion of their territory could mean farmers and ranchers would put an end to the invasive fox squirrels permanently. Squirrels can do serious damage to almond and walnut orchards.
The birth control method being used is a vaccine, called GonaCon.
Krause explained that it’s an immunocontraceptive vaccine, blocking the pathway to the production of sperm and eggs. One shot leaves the animals sterile for about two years. And the same vaccine works on both males and females.
(Now there’s a concept that every female on the planet can appreciate.)
Krause and others have just begun placing 20-40 humane traps around the campus. The traps will be checked two to four times a day. On this first round, captured animals will be examined, marked with a nontoxic dye, and let go. The squirrels will be observed until next summer, when they’ll be re-captured. Then, some will get the contraceptive injection, others a placebo. Again, they’ll be set free to roam the campus.If the experiment works as planned, the number of squirrels will decline to a sustainable number within ten years. And federal wildlife biologists could use the contraceptive on other prolific progeny producers.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"The honest answer is we don't absolutely know," said David Stephens, Ph.D., a professor of animal behavior at the University of Minnesota.
"We know that all animals have internal clocks," he explained. "They know that as the days begin to shorten, and I say 'know' kind of in quotes there, that fall is approaching."
Squirrels don't generally hibernate so they need to eat during the winter. But there's not a lot of food around. That's not the case during the fall, when seeds fall from the trees, providing ample food.
So do squirrels have a target number of seeds they need to store for the winter?
"We think it's primarily determined by availability," said Stephens. In effect: "they run into something, a little supply of food, and they say, 'Gosh I'm gonna put this away.'"
How do squirrels make sure other animals don't steal their stored food?
"Of course other animals do steal their stuff. But what's cool is that they actually are sensitive to this, these are called audience effects of caching," said Stephens.
Some research indicates that squirrels will act in a more sneaky manner when they believe another animal is watching, by hiding the seeds and nuts in a more scattered manner.
So how do squirrels know where to find the buried food? Do they remember?
"They seem to encode information about landmarks ... He may know that tree over there is a place where I cached one. They are able, pretty much, to recover things that they've hidden based on some kind of memory," explained Stephens.
Of course, they don't remember everything. Some researchers believe that squirrels find about 50 percent of what they bury. Typically those seeds are buried about 0.5 to 2 inches beneath the soil surface, so forgotten seeds often sprout into new trees.
Check it out Squirrel Behavior.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Coming to the 2008 Minnesota Fringe Festival!
An all new family friendly morality tale about squirrels!
In the lost village of the Squirrel-People, all the Squirrels are named for their most distinctive trait. There's Clumsy Squirrel, Wise Squirrel, Socially Awkward Squirrel. But the village is thrown into chaos when a young squirrel refuses to pick a name--the inconvenient squirrel!
An Inconvenient Squirrel is a live action cartoon for the stage
packed with chattering, scampering and existential identity crisis!
Designed to engage kids and adults on their own level, the show is a morality tale full of wit, intelligence...and a lot of grown men dressed as squirrels!
Performances are at The Thrust Theater in the
University of MN Rarig Center at 330 21st Ave S on:
Fri, Aug 1 @ 7 PM; Thurs, Aug 7 @ 5:30 PM;
Fri, Aug 8 @ 5:30 PM Sat, Aug 9 @ 2:30 PM;
Sun, Aug 10 @ 4 PM
Adult Tickets are $12. Children's Tickets (under 12) are $5. Students/Seniors/MPR Members: $10. Tickets are available at the door or by contacting Uptown Tix at 651-209-6799 or via e-mail at www.uptowntix.com.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
BBC NEWS | UK | MP calls for mass squirrel cull: "By trapping the greys and then shooting them, Lord Redesdale said he was recreating space for the native red squirrels.
But Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid, told Five Live the project was 'absurd'.
'It's hateful and bigoted,' he said.
'The reason the red squirrel is endangered in terms of its population is because it is being persecuted by people."
"The landing was a sensation like nothing the squirrels had ever experienced before. The roaring sound surrounded them, the sensation of speed increased, and an unexpected bounce lifted them off their feet. Something unseen flung them tumbling and rolling into the soft material of the pack, where Bravo clung to Paddington, shivering and bewildered. "
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The 87 buildings that make up the Seurasaari museum, including cottages, manor houses, barns and other storage buildings, offer plenty of good places for the squirrels to nest and hide food.
"The squirrels have learned to hide food between wooden shingles on the roof. We saw a squirrel pulling at a shingle with its two paws until it broke," Seurasaari museum building conservator Risto Holopainen told AFP.
"Squirrels run into the buildings through open doors, they nibble on the museum textiles and make holes in the walls," he said.
He said the squirrels were causing extra work for employees.
The outdoor museum is located some four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city centre on a small island and displays the Finnish way of life over the past few centuries.
Seurasaari is very popular among tourists and locals, not least because of the tame squirrels. An easy life has led to a dramatic increase of the squirrel population on the small island.
The museum said it was trying to tackle the problem by asking people not to feed the squirrels and preventing them getting into buildings.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday May 11, 2008
It's low in fat, low in food miles and completely free range. In fact, some claim that Sciurus carolinensis - the grey squirrel - is about as ethical a dish as it is possible to serve on a dinner plate.
The grey squirrel, the American cousin of Britain's endangered red variety, is flying off the shelves faster than hunters can shoot them, with game butchers struggling to keep up with demand. 'We put it on the shelf and it sells. It can be a dozen squirrels a day - and they all go,' said David Simpson, the director of Kingsley Village shopping centre in Fraddon, Cornwall, whose game counter began selling grey squirrel meat two months ago.
At Ridley's Fish and Game shop in Corbridge, Northumberland, the owner David Ridley says he has sold 1,000 - at £3.50 a squirrel - since he tested the market at the beginning of the year. 'I wasn't sure at first, and wondered would people really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on. I've had days when I have managed to get 60 and they've all sold straight away.'
Simpson likens the taste to wild boar. Ridley thinks it is more a cross between duck and lamb. 'It's moist and sweet because, basically, its diet has been berries and nuts,' he said.
Both believe its new-found popularity is partly due to its green credentials. 'People like the fact it is wild meat, low in fat and local - so no food miles,' says Simpson. Ridley reckons that patriotism also plays a part: 'Eat a grey and save a red. That's the message.'
A glut of back-to-the-wild TV programmes featuring celebrity chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has also tickled the public's palate, but squirrel is still unlikely to be found in the family fridge. The Observer's restaurant critic, Jay Rayner, said he had never tasted squirrel, but if he did have it for dinner 'it would have to be a big, fat country squirrel and not one of the mangy urban ones you see in cities'.
'People may say they are buying it because it's green and environmentally friendly, but really they're doing it out of curiosity and because of the novelty value. If they can say, "Darling, tonight we're having squirrel", then that takes care of the first 30 minutes of any dinner party conversation. I see it remaining a niche. There's not much meat on a squirrel, so I'd be surprised if farming squirrel takes off anywhere some time soon.'
Kevin Viner, former chef-proprietor of Pennypots, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Cornwall, who now runs Viners bar and restaurant at Summercourt, believes it will remain a niche market. But with a plentiful supply of meat - there are estimated to be almost five million grey squirrels in Britain - there is room for the market to expand.
Viner - who comes from a rural 'if you shot it, you ate it' background - said the trick was to serve squirrel fresh and not to leave it hanging like other game. 'It looks a lot like rabbit, though it is a drier meat and slightly firmer. Most of the meat comes off the rear leg. The loins are so thin they need much shorter cooking time,' he said.
'A large squirrel would be enough for one-and-a-half people. The public really are being drawn to it. I think that it's because it is being perceived as a healthy meat. Southern fried squirrel is good. And tandoori style works. It is especially tasty fricasséed with Cornish cream and walnuts. But the one everyone seems to like is the Cornish squirrel pasty.'
And his own favourite recipe? 'I must admit, I'm a beef man myself,' he said. 'But my huntsman swears by squirrel with sausage meat and bacon.'
How to make squirrel pasties
Kevin Viner's recipe for two pasties
140g squirrel meat cut into 1cm cubes;
100g sliced potato; 100g sliced swede; 50g diced onion; 30g smoked bacon;
15g chopped hazelnuts; 75g butter;
5g chopped parsley; a good pinch of salt and pepper
· Egg wash edges of pastry circles.
· Place the potato, swede, hazelnuts, parsley and seasoning on to each circle followed by the bacon, squirrel meat and, finally, the onion.
· Place butter in each pasty, then fold over the pastry and crimp the edges.
· Put the pasties on to a greaseproof baking tray, egg wash both pasties well, place in a pre-heated oven at 180C or gas mark 5.
· Bake for 45-50 minutes. The juices should start to boil and the pasties should be able to move on the tray with ease.
Monday, May 12, 2008
SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- A man who has spent the past two years living in a treehouse has a new, terrestrial home just in the nick of time, thanks to neighbors.
David Csaky pulls up the ladder to his treehouse in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday.
David "Squirrelman" Csaky, a self-taught carpenter, learned Tuesday that neighbors had found an aging recreational vehicle for him to occupy.
"I'm overwhelmed," Csaky said. "I started crying when they told me."
For two years, Csaky, 52, has lived about 30 feet above the ground on city land, on a 300-square-foot platform that he built, accessible by a ladder counterweighted with sandbags on pulleys.
Csaky outfitted the treehouse with a tent, wood stove, three chairs, shelves and a counter with an unplumbed sink. His pets include Lucky, a rat; Rainbow, a ferret; and Tilt, a squirrel. Watch Csaky at home in treehouse »
He was lately threatened with eviction because the treehouse is a health and safety concern.
Brandon Ferrante, 28, and Maria Bolander, 27, who befriended him after watching the treehouse take shape, found an aging 22-foot RV online after they learned of Csaky's situation.
"It broke our hearts," Ferrante said. "He's taken care of the neighborhood. We couldn't sleep at night. We decided to make it happen."
They and their landlords, Janet Yoder and husband Robby Rudine, agreed to buy the rig for $500 after the owner offered a special "Squirrelman" discount.
"David's a unique character but a good neighbor," Yoder said.
After delivering the RV Tuesday evening, owner Timothy Custer decided instead to sell it to Csaky for a penny.
"It's Dave's new house," Custer said.
To make the house a home, Ferrante said, the task is now to find a permanent parking place.
"We don't want to see it get towed," he said.
Csaky, who got his nickname for his ability to tame squirrels, said he was amazed at the public attention, including television and radio interviews and talk show appearances."This is the beginning of a new life," he said.
Squirrels have long been on the menu at some top restaurants – but now they have found their way into the humble pasty.
May contain nuts: Butcher Dave Simpson with a wild grey squirrel pasty
And it seems shoppers can't get enough of the healthy meat which tastes great, is good for the environment and is very free range.
Butcher David Simpson, who sells the pasties in Fraddon, Cornwall, said: 'People like the fact it is wild meat, low in fat and local – so no food miles.'
David Ridley, who owns a fish and game store in Northumberland, is also surprised by the success of grey squirrels, which apparently taste like wild boar or duck.
'I wasn't sure at first, and wondered would people really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on,' he said.
'I've had days when I have managed to get 60 and they've all sold straight away.
'It is moist and sweet because its diet has been berries and nuts.'
There are about 2.5million grey squirrels in Britain and killing them for food could help control numbers as they are over-running the native red squirrel.
Keith Viner, former chef of Michelin-starred Pennypots in Cornwall, said: 'Southern-fried squirrel is good. And tandoori style works.
'It is especially tasty fricasséed with Cornish cream and walnuts. But the one everyone seems to like is the Cornish squirrel pasty.'
Sunday, April 27, 2008
SquirrelMail is a full-featured but somewhat basic web-mail interface with a Squirreltastic name... I've been using for years with no major issues. My new host, Dreamhost, has this to say about them:
"SquirrelMail - don't count the squirrel out just yet!"
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"She backed away again. The second squirrel was starting to make a flanking manoeuvre round to her right. Carrying a cup. Some kind of acorn thing. The third was right behind it and making its own advance. What was it carrying? Some little scrap of soggy paper, Random thought."
"I've been pestered by squirrels all night,' said Arthur. "They keep on trying to give me magazines and stuff."
Find out more by reading the whole thing
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
It also offers some recipes for Squirrel cacciatore, squirrel croquettes and squirrels in cream sauce.
It would appear Backwoodsbound.com has an entire page dedicated to squirrel recipes.
Finnegan the squirrel looks so cute drinking his little squirrel milk bottle. I can only assume the bottle was filled with fresh squirrel milk. Or maybe dog milk. He is apparently largely raised by dogs. Too bad there aren't any hot squirrel-on-dog-teat pics at the link above but it would appear the other puppies know how to box out Finnegan. Box out!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
These little beauties are raised on a certified organic farm in Tennessee, are carefully eviscerated and skinned (choose from bone-in, the more expensive bone-out, or from the deluxe squirrel filet) and they're certified rabies-free by the FDA. (Since this is such a new product, FDA inspectors are onsite constantly and they inspect the meat much more closely than beef or pork.) Each carcass is inspected twice by line workers to be sure it is hair-free.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Check out this snippet from the tragic tales of Squirrel Girl and the Great Lakes Avengers (GLA)
Squirrel Girl and Monkey Joe took out a pair of muggers threatening Doorman and Flatman, after which the two GLA'ers invited her to join. When they ok'd Monkey Joe joining as well, she agreed, and she almost instantly joined them on a mission to investigate an alarm.
Doorman apologized soon after, revealing that he was trying to scare away new members to prevent their deaths. She then offered him a nut from her nutsack.