scary squirrel world DO SQUIRRELS HIBERNATE?

Patriots, we're often asked the question "Do skwerls hibernate, and if they do, what significance does that have to the struggle against squirrel world domination?"

Of course, the simple answer is, most chitterboxes do not hibernate. The answer is convenient because it's dangerous to assume that a peaceful-looking snowbank doesn't contain an eyes-wide-open, terrorist skwerlball.

However, the answer is incorrect. A few skwerls do hibernate while others have "dormant" periods that mimic hibernation, and some aestivate during the dog days of summer.

Three notable and oft-studied hibernators are the Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Gunnison's Prairie Dawg and the Terror of the Tundra, Sik-Sik the Arctic Ground Skwerl...

  
L-R: G-MANTLE G-SKWERL; GUNNY'S P-DAWG; SIK-SIK

What is our view on skwerlball hibernation, dormancy and the nutzy plot for squirrel world domination?

It's tempting to view chitterbox hibernation as an opportunity to harrass the bushytail horde. How? By interrupting the nutzys dormancy and hibernation patterns, we can produce a legion of sleep-deprived skwerls whose ability to wage war will be diminished 10-fold by fatigue, poor judgement and other mental and physical infirmities.

However bright that posssibility, there is an interesting alternative. Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are looking to tap into the Arctic Ground Squirrel's ability to hibernate as a way to advance space travel among other things...

These Squirrels Are Super Cool
By Louise Knapp - Wired News
02:00 AM Dec. 10, 2003 PT

Arctic ground squirrels are one the coolest critters around -- literally. That's because during their hibernation in arctic climates, they can cool their body to below freezing and still survive.

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks want to tap into these supercooling talents for human use. One of the applications they foresee is long-distance space travel.

"Humankind is destined to be imprisoned on Earth until we can devise a way to induce a hibernating-like state in people," said lead researcher Brian Barnes, from the university's Institute of Arctic Biology.

Currently, the distance we can travel in space is limited partly by the amount of food, oxygen and water we consume. By putting the astronauts in a temporary hibernation-like state, their heart and blood-flow rates would be lowered, slowing their metabolism substantially and reducing the amount of supplies necessary.

A more down-to-earth application would be to mimic the squirrel's talents to preserve human organs donated for transplant. At the present time, human tissues are viable for four days at most. The arctic ground squirrel can maintain its organs at below-freezing temperatures for weeks.

By replicating the squirrel's trick, transplant organs would have a longer shelf life.

What's particularly interesting about the University of Alaska research is the method used to to study the Terror of the Tundra.

CLICK FOR COMMENT The scientists implant a computer chip with memory capacity, a battery and a thermometer into the skwerls. The chip records Sik-Sik's body temperature over a 12-24 month period. Apparently, this is a first-step in determining when hibernation begins (click scientists to hear them discuss experiment).

The extremely brilliant scientists also fashioned little collars for the nutzys. The accessory has a sensor in it that can tell if the skwerl is out feeding or huddled in its burrow. Over the course of a year, researchers discovered that the chitterboxes feed less and huddle in their burrows more on rainy days. Some speculate that this bodes ill for Sik-Sik if global warming brings more rainfall to the tundra.

Finally, the collars also have tracking devices that allow the scientists to follow and find the skwerliens when it's time to retrieve the implants.

CLICK FOR HIDEOUS CHITTER Maybe you can see where we're going with this... with a few minor adjustments the implants can be modified to include a disciplinary option. Then, if the chitterbox, any chitterbox is tracked to a location where it intends to spread mayhem in support of squirrel world domination, an electric jolt could be administered reminding the nutzy that the skwerl-side is the wrong side (click nutzy for comment).

Of course, it should come as no surprise that pathetic skwerlhuggers are already lining up to protest the University of Alaska experiment...

The scientists say that the squirrels are not bothered by the procedure.

Others are not so convinced about the squirrel's well-being.

"These squirrels are undergoing pain; they have to undergo an operation, so are going under the knife, and this is not only painful, but also psychologically stressful," said Alka Chandna, manager of the campaign to end animal experimentation for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Patriots, PETA is a well-known minion of squirrel world domination. Its efforts to stop the University of Alaska's efforts must mean the experiment is a threat to the bushytail horde. And anything that stands in the way of the bushytail horde is a good thing, right?

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SKWERL PHOTO CREDITS
Top (Grey Squirrel): Patriot John White
Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel: Robert Harrington
Gunnison's P-Dawg: R. Forbes
Sik-Sik (Artic Ground Squirrel): unknown
American Red Skwerl in Snow: Patriot Denise