Let's Hear It For Squirrels

Why do I love squirrels so much? I can't explain it. I have plenty of evidence that they don't love me -- I even have a well-developed theory that the two biggest jerks of the backyard animal family are squirrels and bluejays. But every time I see a squirrel, I'm fascinated: I want to know what the little guy is up to. What's going on in that squirrel brain? Probably some scheme related to nuts.

My apartment has flower boxes in the second-floor windows. Every time I plant something in the boxes, I find little squirrel-caches of nuts -- the oddest being peanuts in the shell, buried an inch or two deep. Where are they getting peanuts? And what do they have to gain by digging up my tulips and flinging them at my window? Clearly there's some master plan here that the squirrels have not shared with me.

I could have gone all "trivia" and actually learned something about squirrels, but for today let's take a look at some great squirrel videos. Here's a favorite short film, "Squirrel Eating Walnut." (I won't ruin the plot for you, just watch.)

Many more after the jump!

Okay, that's fun, but nowhere near as awesome as the similarly named "Squirrel Eats a Walnut," which features a rather amazing ending. Seriously.

"Squirrel Obstacle Course" is another fun one, and includes bonus footage of a vending machine heist:

"Will 'Cute' For Food" (now I know where those peanuts are coming from):

And the last one for today, a squirrel in Madison Square Park figures out how to drink from a water sprinkler:

If you actually want to learn something about squirrels rather than watching cute videos, check the mental_floss fact library, read up on Wikipedia or try the Squirrel Facts page from Squirrel Place.

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This Just In
Washington, D.C. Residents Pay Tribute to Fallen 325-Year-Old Oak Tree
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Washington, D.C. is perhaps most famous for its historic monuments and buildings, but residents of the city’s Northwest quadrant recently took time to mourn the death of a centuries-old tree, according to NPR.

The sturdy red oak in D.C.’s Shepherd Park neighborhood was 75 feet tall and its trunk was 5.5 feet wide, with sweeping branches that soared over the porch of an adjacent home. Experts believe it first took root in the late 1600s, making it around 325 years old.

Washington, D.C. wasn’t founded until 1790, so the tree predated the creation of the city. Over the centuries, it stood tall amid countless wars, presidents, and national triumphs and tragedies—but it recently fell victim to the ravages of time and gravity when a large section of its cracked trunk splintered off and fell to the ground.

Nobody was injured and property damage was minimal, but the arduous cleanup process took a six-member crew eight hours to complete, according to The Washington Post. They deployed a 100-ton crane to remove the tree—a job that cost $12,000, as two of the tree's base parts weighed 17,000 pounds and 14,000 pounds, respectively.

All that remains of the tree is its stump, which provided experts clues about its age through its rings. John Anna of Adirondack Tree Experts, the company tasked with removing the tree, told the Post that the red oak was one of the oldest trees he’d seen in his 30-year regional career. As for locals, many had enjoyed its shade for years and felt like they’d “lost a member of [the] family,” a former neighborhood resident named Ruth Jordan told the Post.

[h/t NPR]

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Paris to Turn Its Parks and Gardens into 24-Hour Summer Attractions
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If you're visiting Paris this summer, consider packing a picnic basket. As Travel + Leisure reports, city officials will launch a two-month initiative in July to keep 16 of the metro area’s largest parks and gardens open 24 hours a day.

Called "Les Jardins Nocturnes" (the Night Gardens), the event will run from July 1 through September 3. Nature lovers can enjoy moonlit green spaces like the Parc des Buttes Chaumont—which has a Roman temple replica perched atop a cliff, overlooking a man-made lake—and the sweeping green lawns of the Parc Montsouris in the city’s 14th arrondissement.

More than 130 of Paris’s smaller parks and gardens are already open to the public during the evening. Once Les Jardins Nocturnes begins in July, nearly half of all of the city's green spaces will go 24/7. According to officials, the seasonal initiative is intended to help Parisians enjoy the city’s natural attractions after work, and take summer strolls during the cooler evening hours.

City parks aren’t always the safest places at night, which is why security teams will be deployed to keep an eye on late-night patrons. But while you're embarking on evening nature excursions, make sure to mind your manners: In 2016, Paris launched a similar parks program, and nearly 700 residents near the Parc Montsouris signed a protest petition complaining about excessive noise and litter.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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