Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

Animals, they're just like us! Petty and foolish, prone to ugly prejudices, poor life choices, and generally calamitous idiocy. Such is the crow-black thesis of David Sedaris' seventh collection, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, in which the humorist, long a droll chronicler of human foibles, turns his absurdist wit and opposable thumbs to fables of the feathered and four-legged.

The entries in his lurid bestiary may be brief — few exceed a dozen or so large-font pages apiece, including Ian Falconer's witty illustrations — but they are clearly not meant for children. (Unless, perhaps, your child is a tiny, sadistic Quentin Tarantino in training.) Gooey viscera aside, Squirrel's anthropomorphized critters are adult in the most banal ways: They visit the hairdresser and go out for Chinese food, take their coffee black and attend 12-step meetings. In ''The Faithful Setter,'' an Irish hound endures his mutt wife's ill-bred insecurities; in ''The Parenting Storks,'' a monstrously self-absorbed bird makes Joan Crawford look like a model of sweet maternity. These louse-y, lousy creatures invariably meet bad ends, in ways far more graphic and grisly than anything Edward Gorey ever imagined for his young charges. Only the final story, ''The Grieving Owl,'' offers a hint of a happily-ever-after — and even that involves (no joke) a rabble of singing, anus-dwelling leeches.

Some Sedaris fans felt he had begun to exhaust his store of Homo sapiens-based anecdotes in 2008's When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Squirrel does seem to free him creatively, while still indulging his singularly skewed worldview. (Who else would invent a strung-out mink selling his own pelt for booze?) And for the strong- stomached, these tales are toxic little treats, fun-size Snickers bars with a nougaty strychnine center. But at $21.99 for a scant 159 illustrated pages, Squirrel doesn't quite make a meal.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Terror Babies!!! Operation "Drop and Leave" has begun!!

Be forewarned! This is just the beginning of squirrel interspecies infiltration. First cats, then humans. Then, in 18 years or so, the squirrels "wake-up" and destroy our country from the inside. We knew this would happen eventually. Write your congressperson before it's too late!

Squirrel master plan of infiltration: Baby squirrel adopted by cat, learns to purr.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts

This riled-up response is probably just a false alarm, with the monkeys mistaking the squirrel for a predatory bird. On the other hand, male macaques – some of whom give chase and even attack a harmless rodent – might be trying to impress females in their troop.

Although this tough-guy motive was not proved in a new study, "it is possible that adult or sub-adult male monkeys may be 'showing off' their fitness" as potential mates, said Kenji Onishi, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Osaka University and lead author of the paper being published in the current issue of the journal Primate Research.

Biologists and psychologists have long studied macaques' complex social interactions for insights into human evolution and behavior.

However, much remains unknown about how macaques get along (or not) with other creatures. Better documentation of such encounters could reveal more about macaque societies as well as that of our shared primate forbearers.

"Human evolution occurred alongside primate evolution from a common mammalian ancestor," Onishi told LiveScience. "Therefore, it is important to learn the evolution of primates in understanding the previous steps in human evolution."

Intruder alert!

When Japanese giant flying squirrels glided over to a tree in the monkeys' vicinity, adults and adolescent macaques started hollering at it threateningly, the researchers report. Young macaques screamed and mothers scooped up their infants, while adults and high-ranking males in particular went and physically harassed the offending squirrel.

Onishi said other researchers have observed macaques responding in a similarly aggressive manner to birds that prey on the monkeys, such as the golden eagle and mountain hawk eagle. These raptors glide and swoop much like the flying squirrels.

Upon closer inspection up in a tree or on the ground, however, the squirrel is clearly no bird of prey. Yet the animal still raises the hackles of the macaques.

Other woodland creatures, including hares, deer and wild boars, barely elicit a response from macaque groups, said Onishi, though dogs and people will sometimes instigate alarm calls and a fleeing from the immediate area.

Meet the macaques

After humans, macaques are the most geographically dispersed primate on the planet, living across southern Asia and into North Africa. The rhesus macaque is also perhaps the most familiar monkey to Westerners, common both in zoos and as lab animals.

The Japanese macaques in the study are well-known for a group of them that hang out every winter in the Jacuzzi-like Jigokudani hot springs when it gets too cold and snowy outside (no wonder the species is also nicknamed "snow monkey").

The adult male Japanese macaques range in size from about 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 centimeters) tall and females about 19 to 22 inches (4.8 to 5.5 centimeters).

This gives the monkeys a clear size advantage over their flying squirrel antagonists, if one does not count the squirrels' tails. The squirrels documented in the study were typical for their kind, about 12 to 15 inches (30 to 40 cm) long and with a bushy tail of about equal length.

Show of (non)force?

When chasing macaques did succeed in getting close to these infringing squirrels, the monkeys tended to look on "in fear and hesitated to attack," Onishi said.

In rare instances when the bolder monkeys did physically assault their quarry, Onishi said the squirrels were neither harmed nor eaten and eventually escaped.

Though clearly not interested in eating each other, the diets of the animals do cross when it comes to fruits, nuts and other delectables. But a territorial defense of food resources is not the motive of these militant monkeys, as there are "low levels of food competition between macaques and the squirrels," Onishi noted

It is more likely that a simple misunderstanding about the squirrels' nature underpins the melee.

Mewa Singh, a professor of psychology at the University of Mysore in India who has studied macaques, pointed out that the flying squirrels are generally nocturnal, whereas the monkeys are active during the day.

"The interactions between monkeys and a flying squirrel, therefore, are not expected to be frequent and the monkeys may not "know" whether the squirrel is a predator or not," said Singh, who was not involved in the study.

All in the game

Nevertheless, the fact that adult males had a greater tendency to be the ones beleaguering the flying squirrels led Onishi and his co-authors to speculate that a measure of flaunting biological fitness to the females is in play.

At the same time, a generic "battle stations!" response to raptor-like behaviors from any sort of animal, whether featured like a bird or not, might prime the macaques for when real danger glides into town.

This hair-trigger might increase the possibility that macaques in the troop "survive when true predatory threats emerge," Onishi said.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BrewDog’s beer now stuffed inside of roadkill

If Scottish beer isn’t enough to make you feel excessively manly, Scottish beer jammed inside of a dead animal should do the trick. BrewDog’s absolute most expensive beer “The End of the World” is now featured inside of an animal. Obviously the animal has been put through the entire taxidermy process before the beer bottle was jammed into their insides. You can keep a look out for these, but each bottle will cost you $762 on up to $1,067.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive

I was walking through the neighborhood one afternoon when, on turning a corner, I nearly tripped over a gray squirrel that was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, eating a nut. Startled by my sudden appearance, the squirrel dashed out to the road — right in front of an oncoming car.

Before I had time to scream, the squirrel had gotten caught in the car’s front hubcap, had spun around once like a cartoon character in a clothes dryer, and was spat back off. When the car drove away, the squirrel picked itself up, wobbled for a moment or two, and then resolutely hopped across the street.

You don’t get to be one of the most widely disseminated mammals in the world — equally at home in the woods, a suburban backyard or any city “green space” bigger than a mousepad — if you’re crushed by every Acme anvil that happens to drop your way.

Read more in the NYTimes...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Save the Squirrels!

Rope Bridges Expected to Save Five Squirrels a Year From Being Road Kill Save the Squirrels!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Conan O’Brien on Twitter: ‘Today I Interviewed a Squirrel’ ‘Help Me’

Poor Conan ‘O’Brien. Since he left NBC as host of “The Tonight Show,” he is going into late night withdrawal, and he has resorted to interviewing backyard creatures. Like other celebrities, the pompadoured comedian has discovered Twitter, and since he opened his verified account yesterday, Conan has already gained over 235,000 followers.

In O’Brien’s first tweet he wrote:

“Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me,” O’Brien tweeted to the world.
Check it out here.