In this episode of Garbage Brain University, we’ve got thousands of squirrel facts, a squirrel quiz, and one very unfortunately dead squirrel. Our new theme song is “Electric Flower” by The Melvins, used with the permission of Ipecac Recordings and The Melvins. If you haven’t already, subscribe @ garbagebrainuniversity.com to get the newsletter that holds all the facts we were unable to cram into the podcast!
Squirrels may be the cutest of all invasive species, but they’re fucking everywhere, ranked as “Least Concern” on the Red List Of Threatened Species. Girl squirrels have multiple litters a year, giving birth to anywhere from two to eight smaller squirrels per litter. They’ve been around for millions of years, with squirrel fossils dating back to the Pleistocene era, which makes it no less tragic that Drew murdered one. It wasn’t on purpose. (You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out why.)
Even though urban squirrels are often unafraid of people, some people are definitely afraid of squirrels. Sciurophobia is the term for medical-grade squirrel fear, and although the name isn’t familiar to many, it affects up to 250,000 people in the United States alone. On the cast, Natalie talked about how her friend was trapped on the roof by a squirrel, and we were surprised to find out how common this fear actually is.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the predominant species in most of North America, and the typical member of the species hides more food than they recover, meaning that squirrels are the cause of millions of hidden caches of nuts, seeds and acorns which are left to rot every year. Don’t get too mad, though. Unlike squirrels, humans can’t eat raw acorns, anyway. (You can process them and eat them, and here’s a guide on how to do it, though we don’t recommend it.) Acorns contain high levels of tannins, a bitter compound that’s toxic to humans in a large dose, but which squirrels can eat with apparent impunity.
Did you know squirrels are related to woodchucks? You do, now. They’re also related to marmots (above,) an animal you may have never thought of before, unless you’re a big animal-head. Two people were hospitalized just this weekend for contracting the bubonic plague (The Black Death) from eating marmot meat. This is probably a good time to point out that if you pick up a paid subscription to Garbage Brain University now, you’ll have access to our mega-Black-Death episode as soon as it drops. We’ve got a massive and weird ‘cast on the way that’s all about the bubonic plague, but it’ll be for paid subscribers only. Slam this “50% off” subscription button and you’ll get your first month at half-price:
Thanks for reading and listening, and if you haven’t already, follow @drewtoothpaste and @NatalieDee on Twitter, “An App Which Mostly Functions As A Symptom Of Our Societal Decline.” And thanks to Substack, the service that let us create this newsletter and host our podcast! See you next week!