Lewiston, Maine to all the squirrels: stay off my Christmas tree

December 10th, 2015 by nperlut

Well, one of the largest cities in Maine has decided squirrels are not welcome to join the Christmas celebration….

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/12/10/lewistons-christmas-tree-will-have-electric-zapper-to-shock-squirrels/

 

What happens when a squirrel falls from a tree?

December 3rd, 2015 by nperlut

Here in Squirrelology-land we have been planning an interesting–albeit a bit odd–experiment on squirrel falls for sometime.  We have now observed 4 squirrels in trees and 1 on a utility wire fall from up to 40 ft, land on the ground, and run off, seemingly unhurt.  At some point these falls must be lethal and we want to know what that point it.  Therefore, we have been planning an experiment where we drop already dead squirrels from the top of our four story building to test the impact effect of different substrates–grass, snow, ice, pavement.  We plan to x-ray them after they are dropped to see what damage occurs to their skeleton (the squirrels we will use all died previously of natural causes and we collected their bodies subsequently).

This week, amazingly, we potentially got a preview of the study.  One of our ear-tagged (only) squirrels was found dead outside a dorm, about 12 m from the main doorway.  My read of the situation is that the squirrel was on the roof of the three story building and tried to jump to an adjacent white pine (inferred from the direction the body was pointing).  The jump was a bit far and the branch tips a bit thin.  The squirrel missed, and landed on the left side of its head, suffering mortal head wounds.  Here are a few pictures.  Let me know if you have any alternative hypotheses.

 

squirrel fall1 squirrel fall2 squirrel fall3