(NEWSER) – Officials say a wayward squirrel caused about $300,000 in damage to an eastern Indiana community center set to open in June. Fort Wayne Parks Department officials say the squirrel got into the electrical equipment of the building in McMillen Park last week, causing a power surge that damaged the heating and air-conditioning systems and parts of the boiler system. Crews are working to make repairs so the center can open as planned on June 7, reports the Journal Gazette. Sadly, the squirrel did not survive to see the big day.
they can cause so much damage.
(NEWSER) – Squirrel breeding is a real job—and apparently a very dangerous one if you’re dealing with the wrong kind of squirrel. After the mysterious deaths of three German men who all worked as breeders of variegated squirrels—a kind of squirrel native to Central America that’s sometimes kept as an exotic pet—researchers have identified a new virus that had apparently jumped from the squirrels to the men, LiveScience reports. The men, who were in their 60s and regularly socialized together, died between 2011 and 2013 from inflammation of the brain, and researchers say at least two of them had been scratched or bitten by the squirrels. They died a few months after showing symptoms, including fever and weakness.
The virus found in the men is a new bornavirus, a kind of virus often found in horses and sheep, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control suggests avoiding direct contact with variegated squirrels—which should be pretty easy for most people—and a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center tells HealthDay that there’s no need to fear a major squirrel-borne outbreak. “It is possible that this virus could spread to squirrels here in the US and occasionally to humans, but we wouldn’t see sustained spread, as there is no evidence of spread from human to human,” he says. (A bite from a rabid fox led researchers to a new strain of rabies.)
they can cause so much damage.
(NEWSER) – At a city council meeting in October, Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. gave a heated speech about “aggressive squirrels” chewing through garbage bins at a big expense to the city, reported the Chicago Sun-Times—and perhaps the animals caught wind of it. On Nov. 13, Brookins was riding his bicycle on the suburban Cal-Sag Trail when what the Chicago Tribune describes as a “kamikaze squirrel” jumped into his wheel and proceeded to get stuck in the spokes, causing Brookins to catapult over the handlebars. The squirrel died in the bizarre accident, and Brookins didn’t get off unscathed: He suffered a fractured skull and broken nose and lost multiple teeth. He now faces a months-long recovery and multiple surgeries.
“I only saw the squirrel when I came to and saw it stuck in the wheel,” says Brookins, who posted an image of his bike—squirrel still in the wheel—on Facebook with a message noting he won’t be able to attend any official events in the near term. But they say laughter is the best medicine: “I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” quips Brookins. “I could have broken my neck.” He jokes he’ll call animal control if any squirrels come near his house in the next few weeks. “Just a warning, the rabbits in this city are getting ornery too,” notes a well-wisher on Brookins’ Facebook page. (One nutty squirrel caused $300,000 in damage.)