25 December 2010

A new breed of Christmas

It's Christmas, and the squirrels are out there exchanging gifts of fecundity. Devout pagans that they are, worshipping the trees and the cycles of the Earth, one could expect no less of them.

They haven't been mobbing the malls, crushing the kiosks or even tying up the toll-free numbers with orders for monogrammed acorns, sheepskin-lined nests or elegant combs and brushes to keep their busy tails bright. They certainly don't need to give one another any nutcrackers.

No, these squirrels are giving one another the gift that keeps on giving. And giving. And giving.

And so...off come the wrappings on their brand of generosity, bought with hormones instead of debit cards. They are bestowing the seeds of the spring crop of youngsters. One size fits all. No exchanges necessary. Sadly, no manufacturers' guarantees either.

So ultimately, we ask in the spirit of this season, is it truly better to give than to receive? Try asking all those mama squirrels in about 48 days.

16 December 2010

Girls just wanna have...fun?

Every high school class had at least one - the girl who'd go with any guy, the one whose reputation won her a kind of red letter emblazoned across her chest (or any other equally active body part).

Now, it seems, almost every tree in the United Kingdom has one too: A red squirrel for whom The Mating Game constitutes a second career, if not an obsession, second only to the gathering and cracking of nuts.

The truth can finally be told: Female red squirrels in Britain are sluts. Bad girls. Bushytailed hos. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Toronto are making big news as the academic peeping Toms who have successfully charted the drey-hopping ways of these frisky hot mommas.

It all comes down to opportunity, big opportunity, on the single day in the breeding season when the female reds come into season. They don't just wanna have fun, they wanna have a healthy litter and the more they shop around where the sample is ample, the more likely they are to achieve their goal.

"We found the more males in the area interested in participating in the mating chase, the more squirrels she will mate with," Guelph researcher Eryn McFarlane is quoted as saying in a variety of published accounts of this report.

So the likelihood is eventually that most red squirrel females will indeed find their Mr. Right. They can't go wrong. After all, a tree is not just a tree anymore: It's a singles bar.

12 December 2010

He was just a potty animal

Fact #1: A squirrel does not belong in a toilet.

Fact #2: A toilet is an exit, not an entrance. You don't want to be going into it; you merely want to interface with it long enough to send stuff on its way.

Fact #3: This past week's story about a squirrel in a toilet in Oklahoma - the one that made national news - is mildly amusing (and only mildly so) solely by virtue of its happy ending. Otherwise, there is not a shred of "funny" to the sequence of events.

But, it seems, there was indeed a squirrel in a toilet in a woman's home in Oklahoma this past week and she called 911 because she considered it an emergency - for her, presumably, and not for the squirrel, though the unfortunate creature was clearly the one up the ceramic creek without the proverbial paddle.

The news accounts don't say how the squirrel got into the toilet, much less how he entered the house or bathroom in the first place, and even the video accompanying the stories gives no clear view of whether the squirrel was injured - but by all accounts, he wasn't.

Fortunately, there are only a few true-to-life Demons of the Toilet we need to fear. In New York City, many apartment-dwellers are haunted by the prospect of sewer alligators emerging from their commodes in the dark of night and creating all manner of violence. This is the uptown equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster.

And there are other horrifying toilet nightmares that, frankly,I would rather not recount in polite company of my readers. But suffice it to say, these scenarios involve spicy food.

A commode-caught bushytail, however, is hardly a toilet terror.
And though the woman was right to call 911, she was clearly looking to save herself, not the squirrel.

The good news is the squirrel survived.

Perhaps now the woman will have learned something: When it comes hysteria and toilets, it's best to keep a lid on both.

10 December 2010

Power to the squirrels

Oh to be small, gray and powerful. And oh, to be a gatekeeper of sorts at a public high school where kids are almost always clamoring for an early recess.

One squirrel made the ultimate sacrifice this past week in granting an early exit to students at Summit High School in New Jersey. He paid with his life.

He separated the educational institution from the power grid, no doubt with the only power tools he had at his ready disposal: his teeth.
The cost, to the squirrel, was probably a dear one (it almost always is): He perished in the act of liberating the kids from class. The squirrel went out in a blaze (or at least a smoldering) of glory.

And as one news account relates the tale, shortly after the heroic rodent killed the juice (and himself) some 1,041 students and an estimated 125 staff were set free. Any squirrel can relate to that kind of love: freedom at all costs.

Jersey Central Power and Light indicated that the high school was the only customer to have lost power.

The squirrel's final act, then, seems to have been highly targeted - specific to the school. It was an early Christmas gift to students who would rather have been home anyway instead of hitting the books.

If that doesn't create another 1,041 new squirrel fans instantly, I don't know what does.

Rest in peace little guy. And let's hope the students stopped to feed a few of your cousins on their way home that morning.