Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Drey of Reckoning

Julia's blog brings us, in her inimitable style, the tale of the squirrel-induced panic that engulfed a primary school recently. From the Mail:
A teacher at Chater Infants School in Watford, Hertfordshire, had to herd the youngsters back into the safety of the building after an 'unusually aggressive' grey squirrel disrupted their afternoon playtime.
It follows a week in which squirrels have been in the news rather a lot, what with causing traffic accidents in Essex...
A pensioner collided with a motorcyclist after swerving onto the wrong side of the road to avoid a squirrel.
...attempting robbery in Northern Ireland....
A red squirrel has been apprehended after going on the rampage at a jewellery shop in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. 
...and sabotaging the power supply on a grand scale in Florida...
The squirrel infiltrated the system at a TECO substation at about 9:30 a.m. and knocked out the power for about 7,000 area customers. 
...California ...
Power was knocked out for almost 2,000 residents of Silicon Valley after a squirrel was zapped by electrical equipment.
and Oklahoma...
An overly-curious squirrel is being blamed for a power outage that left 2,000 persons — including several businesses — without electricity for nearly an hour and a half on Saturday morning in Claremore.
... to say nothing of the many fires started by squirrels munching on the household electrics. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, not content with merely chewing or stealing the wiring, they have been unscrewing bulbs from the zoo's Christmas light display:
The problem has gotten so bad that zoo officials took to spreading hot sauce on the strands as a deterrent.
Though, to be honest, the measure wasn't exactly a success:
"They kind of laughed at it. I think we felt good about it, but it didn't do much." 
The articles explain that the damage is the result of squirrels seeking material to line their winter nests or mistaking the light bulbs for oddly-coloured nuts, but what if there's more to it than that? Could it be that these little furry chaps actually have designs on humanity?

After all, the grey ones that came here have ruthlessly set about displacing the indigenous population, reducing them to skulking in isolated habitats or island locations from where, as we've seen, they occasionally venture forth to engage in a spot of breaking and entering.

In a single century, grey squirrels have colonised virtually the whole of our countryside while their relatives fill the same ecological niche almost worldwide; what if these little fluffy mammals are actually plotting world domination?

Maybe the lone playground invader was merely testing the water; staging a small skirmish to see how the enemy reacts. If they judge our capacity for resistance by what they saw at the school, their morale must now be sky-high.

After all, they already know they can disrupt traffic, take out our power supply and, for all we know, disable our phone masts at any time, especially given all that practice unscrewing light bulbs. For the chefs who extol the virtues of squirrel meat, it might not be long to payback time.

Still not convinced? Take a close look at this cute piece of anthropomorphic footage currently doing the rounds; that's not a twig the squirrel is nibbling...

;


If the premise of this seems familiar, you may already know the excellent short story 'Skirmish' by Clifford D Simak; if you don't, it can be found in sections online here, though I don't have any information on copyright.

5 comments:

  1. So that's why they dig holes all over our garden - prototype traps. When we find one covered over with a thin layer of dry grass we'll know what their game is.

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  2. AKH, you do seem to have particularly industrious squirrels in your neck of the woods; on our last visit to the Peak District, we watched one diligently burying nuts non-stop for nearly an hour. If they ever start working in concert, we're doomed.

    Thank you, Julia - do check out the Simak story if you have time.

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  3. Have a Merry Christmas, Macheath and may there be much more at this blog in 2015.

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