What goes through your mind when your electricity goes out? Maybe you wonder how your appliances will be affected. If it happens at night, maybe you’ll have some safety concerns. If you’re like many other Etobicoke residents, after a while you probably start complaining about the ineptness of your power provider. But sometimes it’s squirrels that are causing the issue. With effective squirrel control, Etobicoke residents can play a role in keeping electrical wires safe from squirrels and vice versa.
How Squirrels Interrupt Your Power Supply
Tree squirrels like the Eastern Gray Squirrel, a popular squirrel species in Canada, are particularly fond off scurrying along electrical wires. One of the reasons squirrels love the wires is the fact that they keep them suspended above the ground-based predators. They also help the squirrels to get across streets without having to contend with vehicular traffic.
It seems improbable and understandably many people doubt the verity of this claim that squirrels can trigger power outages, but it is true and it has a lot to do with the squirrel’s affinity for chewing. Squirrels have front teeth that grow continuously and to keep them in check the animals develop a chewing habit. As they traverse the power lines, they put their chewing prowess into action, creating the possibility of exposing wires.
When a squirrel comes in contact with one wire, the effects aren’t so bad. This is why young squirrels are usually safe from electrocution. They are usually small enough to scurry between two or more of these high voltage wires without coming into contact with both at the same time. The older (and larger) squirrels do not fare so well. Their larger size makes navigation between wires more tedious and they are more likely to wind up touching two wires at the same time. An adult squirrel’s tail, for example, might extend far enough to make contact with a second wire. When this happens the poor squirrel is struck by a force of electricity so powerful that death is inevitable.
What Power Companies Do to Try to Stem the Problem
Some power companies try to keep squirrels away from their wires by installing barriers called guards around the equipment. But the squirrels can chew through these. They also post fake owls (natural predators) strategically to discourage squirrels from approaching. But after a while, the squirrels seem to catch on to the ruse and the owls become ineffective. In fact, sometimes the fake owls are discovered with evidence of chewing on them.
How You can help
You can help to save squirrels from electrocution by limiting their access to these wires. Prevent them from travelling from trees onto the wires by trimming back branches that lean close enough to allow them to leap over. You can also avoid the attractants that pull squirrels to your space, especially if there are high voltage wires overhead. Bird feeders are popular squirrel magnets so if you have them squirrels will come. Rodents will chew on all wires inside and out of your home making this task more involved but necessary. You might want to consider removing them if squirrels in your area are constantly losing their lives on electric wires.
The next time you face a blackout, remember that squirrels may be behind your power outage and spare a thought for the poor animal that must be either in pain or dead as a result of the unfortunate incident. Remember also that through responsible and strategic humane squirrel control, Etobicoke residents can reduce the likelihood of power outages and, in the process, save many squirrels from electrocution.