In recent months, there has been a noticeable surge in the number of unfortunate incidents of roadkill involving our furry friends, the squirrels.
Junior Monika Pataki said, “I was walking down near Middlefield and I saw at least 3 dead squirrels. It’s even worse when I am driving.”
One factor contributing to the surge in squirrel roadkill is the recent increase in baby squirrels. Squirrels are known for their prolific breeding, and this year’s population explosion has resulted in more of them venturing out into the open.
According to Buffy Martin-Tarbox, the Peninsula Humane Society’s communications manager, “The squirrels are having their second litter of the year so there’s probably a lot of younger squirrels on the road and they haven’t quite developed street smarts.”
Squirrels have their babies twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Since it is fall, there has been a surplus of these baby squirrels who haven’t learned the “rules of the road” so many run into ongoing traffic and die.
Martin-Tarbox continued, “It’s getting darker in the evening, when people are commuting home from work and which also tends to be a time when a lot of animals can be quite active. And the squirrels need to cross roads, and unfortunately they’re having fatal incidents with vehicles.”
Drivers aren’t able to see squirrels come into ongoing traffic if it is dark outside. In the winter, the days grow shorter, and darkness descends earlier in the evening. This reduction in daylight has a direct impact on squirrel behavior. These creatures, who are active during the day, may find themselves caught in the midst of their daily activities during the evening rush hours when commuters are heading home. The combination of increased vehicular traffic and reduced visibility raises the likelihood of collisions with squirrels, leading to more casualties on the road.
Squirrels are small, fast, and move very erratically, so they are harder to spot on the road. Martin-Tarbox said, “It’s probably easier to see a deer or even a dog, but [squirrels] are small and tend to move fairly quickly. It’s not necessarily that people are not driving safely, but the squirrels are moving through traffic at a high speed and unexpectedly which causes many of them to die.”
As the squirrel population soars, so does the likelihood of unfortunate encounters with vehicles. The streets, once animal pathways, have transformed into danger zones for these small creatures, who seem to have adopted a dangerous approach to their daily activities.
What happens to dead squirrels after they have been run over?
When these squirrels are left squashed on the roads that take most students to school in the morning, they are gone by the afternoon. Raccoons, stray cats, and even larger birds of prey have joined the ranks of Menlo-Atherton’s urban jungle, seizing the opportunity presented by the vulnerable carcasses. Before the Humane Society can swoop in to collect the fallen rodents, these predators, driven by instinct, have already made a meal of the casualties.
You can either pick up the dead animals and dispose of them in your garbage cans, or you can call The Peninsula Humane Society, a local non-profit dedicated to helping animals in the area. If you see a dead animal, call them at (650)-340-7022 or visit their rescue site here for more information.