D.C. Squirrel chats about the heat

Jul 22, 2011

D.C. is hot. Find out what D.C. Squirrel is doing to stay cool in 116 degrees, and ask for advice on how to stay cool yourself. After all, D.C. Squirrel sees hundreds of tourists trying to cool off every day, so he's qualified to answer your questions about it. Right?

Follow @DCsquirrel on Twitter!

This great picture of DC Squirrel was sent in by Washington Post user maxinator29.

It's not the heat. It's not even the humidity. It's the sound of people gasping for breath like World War I soldiers who've just been gassed at Verdun, their alveoli desperately trying to find some cool oxygen.

Have you tried to take a breath outside today? It's like trying to breathe through a damp mattress. It's not safe for humans to be outside!

Or squirrels for that matter. Our little lungs are the size of thimbles. Of course, we don't have much choice. It's not like you humans are going to open the doors to the cooling centers or allow us to troop en masse onto the platform of Farragut North or Gallery Place. We'll just do what we've always done: survive by guile, charm and innate smarts.

I've found a bit of shade and am stealing wi-fi from the Starbucks at  15th and K NW. For the next hour let's talk about the D.C. heat wave.

I see that Milbank must be afraid to go up against you today since he is not chatting--last time Cillizza was up at the same time as you he was crushed. Can't comment on the Hax-- she is pretty good. What is the secret to your total dominance at the Post? Have other media outlets been trying to lure you away or are you committed to DC.?

The rumor that Fox News has been trying to lure me is true. However, squirrels and foxes are a very bad combination -- for the squirrel, anyway. I think the only media outlet that I might be interested in is NPR: National Possum Radio.

Also, Milbank actually is chatting today! Check it out:

Congress like middle school? Dana Milbank Live

It's so hot out there. How do you keep your nuts from overheating?

I recommend a mesh drawstring bag. I put my nuts in there and allow the air to circulate around them, keeping them nice and cool. On a really hot day, I dip my nuts in Rock Creek.

I hear it is so hot, one could fry a squirrel on the sidewalk. What do you think of that?

I think you're one sick puppy. Having said that, I do advise my fellow squirrels to avoid asphalt, concrete, roofing shingles, galvanized metal and vinyl T-tops. All of those can singe the paws on a day like today.

I spotted a feral cat chasing a squirrel this morning when the feline fell prey to spontaneous combustion. The acrid smell of charred whiskers lingered in the air. A side effect of the heat? Or is that merely the cover story, and your species has secretly developed deadly stealth countermeasures to deal with predators? If so, my suburban yard is bedeviled by raccoons and skunks and the occasional fox - can we arrange a deal for the technology?

[Tents fingers and peers straight ahead.] Ex-cellent. The plan is continuing apace.

Just because we have the technology does not mean we will use it. But just as Pakistan developed the A-bomb, so too has squirrel-kind developed an advanced disintegrating ray.

How do you plan to use your "charm" to your advantage when searching for A/C and water sources today?

In my experience, few humans can resist a squirrel that looks them in the eyes and cocks its head. Then when we hold a little piece of discarded candy bar in our paws and eat it as if it were a sandwich, we can melt the hardest hearts. Then we're usually invited into the garage, where we help ourselves to your spare antifreeze, go crazy and eat the wiring in your car.

Hey you stupid squirrel, if you don't stop digging in my flowerpots, you're going to become my dinner. Kapish?

On a day like today, wouldn't you really prefer a healthy salad? Doesn't iceberg lettuce sound nice?

Why are you wearing a fur coat in this heat?

Not everyone can pull it off -- a fur coat, I mean. And I mean that literally and figuratively. Kid Rock, for example, looks good in a fur coat. And if I tried to pull off my fur coat, I'd look like that icky Voldemort baby at the end of the new Harry Potter movie.

Is it cooler up in a leafy tree? Is there more breeze there? What's your favorite kind of tree for napping?

To be serious for a moment: Squirrels are fortunate, at least compared to humans. As Smithsonian squirrel expert Dick Thorington put it: "Squirrels are small mammals, so they do not have the problem that large mammals have in shedding heat. They spread themselves out on the top of the branch in the shade and do their best to keep cool by not being active."

I like a nice tall tree, such as a mighty oak.

Would you prefer DC Snowpocalypse, or the heat?

Great question. Me, I prefer the heat. Easier to find food, even if it's a drag moving around. But I feel I don't need to eat as much anyway. The heat reduces my appetite.

What about you guys? Which would you rather have? Snowpacalypse or  Heat Treatment? And why?

I understand it's so hot that the squirrels are burying each other's nuts. Care to comment?

All I will say is: Keep your hands off my nuts.

in the current debt debate?  How will these budget cuts affect you?

Too soon to tell. I will say this: Squirrels have long believed in trickle-down economics. Of course, it has a different meaning in our world. It means waiting at the bottom of the tree as the nuts rain down from above.

Hi, I leave a bowl of water outside and I've seen you squirrels drinking from it. Keeps the antifreeze in my car safe from thirst-crazed animals.

Thank you. A little gin (Bombay Sapphire, preferably), tonic water and lemon wedges would be nice too.

on a hot tin roof? Come on, you knew that was coming.

Well played, sir.

With the double whammy of the heat and the humidity, my normally straight hair is curling up. How do you keep your bushy tail from looking like a huge fuzz ball in this weather?

I usually use a flat iron (a Remington Frizz Therapy iron; $50 from Target), but it's so hot that I don't think I will over the next few days. You can try a leave-in conditioner. Or do what I'm going to do:  just go natural. Yes, your tail might look like Angela Davis's afro, but who cares?

Did you really just include a Harry Potter spoiler in one of your answers? Bad squirrel!

Oh sorry, Voldemort lives. Harry dies. And Ron ends up with Ginny. Which is weird, given that she's his sister.

Seriously, this weather is WAY worse. My poor A/C can't keep up and I can't take off any more layers than I have already. When it's cold, I can bundle and feel good. But this? There's no relief. (Did I mention I'm 38 weeks pregnant? That might make a difference.)

Thirty-eight weeks pregnant! What is it with you humans? Why do you insist on gestating for so long? I quote from "Squirrels: The Answer Guide" (Johns Hopkins University Press; 2006):  "On average, North American and European tree squirrels have a gestation time of approximately 39 to 44 days." Jealous?

Do you have any information about whether DC libraries and rec centers will be open on Sunday? Thank you!

D.C. libraries will be open as usual, which means only MLK will be open on Sunday, 1 to 5. I haven't heard about rec centers yet.

D.C. Squirrel you gotta help me. The peeps that feed me my nuts and put out the bird seed I steal are re-doing their deck so I can't climb through their screen to get inside for the air conditioning. Should I chew through their unused hot-tub cover and go for a swim or what?

No, whatever you do don't go in the hot tub. It's probably empty of water, which will make it like a convection oven in there. If it does have water in it, the water will be noxious, truly rank. What are you, a rat? Even in the best of times, hot tubs are to be avoided. Contact can result in gold necklaces and shark's tooth medallions dangling on your hairy chest.

Was the real brains behind the show. Rocky was just there to look cute. You are just a scooby snack waiting to be devoured. Shame DC doesnt have more coyotes.

It has plenty of coyotes. They just can't get their own chat. Besides, everyone knows what coyotes are like. They put too much faith in technology. You really think Acme is gonna solve your problems?

My name is Kate I am a blue merle collie and I her sheep in these temps. Aww Mr Squirrel what's wrong? Are the tree limbs a little to hot or the black top a little to warm for a little rodent like you? Why dont you come down and play with me and Border Collie buddies? We play who gets the Scooby Snack and you are it!


The late lamented Arlington Grill on Wilson Blvd. You would walk in and be hit with a cold blast of AC. The beer mugs were kept in the freezer and they ahd a great club sandwich. The live entertainment couldnt be beat on a hot afternoon. Now its some dumpy third rate steak place operated the some dude who thinks he can do wrong and ahs a bruger palce that thinks its better then 5 Guys. Mr SQuirel did you ever see Double Trouble at the Arlington Grill Jenna and heather would give you a show you would never forget.

Jenna and Heather at the Arlington Grill? No. But I remember the Chip and Dale Dancers.

I am, unfortunately, human to a squirrel chasing dog. She doesn't want to eat your people, she just likes to see things run fast: squirrels, other dogs, small children, either by chasing them or encouraging them to chase her. So if you are chased by a liver-and-white spaniel in Glover Park, please don't try to hit her with acorns. She really didn't mean it.

Couldn't you get her a cheetah to play with?

Never mind the heat. I was walking down the steps to my front door, and my path was blocked by one of your brethren, splayed out on the sidewalk in a very exaggerated Superman-flying-like pose. I got to within a foot of your buddy, as he studied me with an arrogant gaze. Then he sprang off into the bushes. You little rodents are playing an offensive, aren't you?!

I've traced your IP address and even now a black (squirrel) ops team is headed to your location. They have my approval to take you down with extreme prejudice.

What do you know about earthworms? While out on my bike this morning I rode along a road running beside a river and saw what I thought at first was hundreds of three or four inch long pieces of narrow tree branches. After a while I realized they were worms, all baked on the hot asphalt. I've never seen anything like this before, and it was just along about a one mile stretch of road. It looked like they were heading from the hill one one side of the road to the river on the other. Were they driven from their ground because of the heat and were seeking out the water? You'd think worms would just dig in deeper to find cooler soil. Or do they cross the road regularly and only now baked to death because the road didn't cool down at night?

What do you think this is? D.C. Earthworm? All I know about earthworms is that my kids love them. They call them "Nature's Slim Jims."

I was watching this show on FOX called the five and they had a live shot of  a squirrel on the WH lawn looking adorable. This was in prime time. The hosts keep going back to the live shot and talking about the squirrel. This was a supposed current event panel so imagine my surprise at how much play the squirrle got. Now that I know FOX has been after you it make more sense.

Yes, FOX has its obessions. Squirrels are one of them. They'll never take me alive.

At least human babies aren't born blind.

Yeah, but I bet they can't hang upside down from the side of a tree, either.

Dana Milbank's chat just had some problems. The producer posted: "Note to chatters: If you recently submitted a question, then please try again. Our chat system had a glitch and your question may have disappeared. We suspect it may have been an attempt by the D.C. Squirrel to get more views." Is this true?!

To quote Sgt. Shultz (and Rupert Murdoch): I know nothink!

who are safely imprisoned behind a window pane? Or does knowing that they're in the a/c take the fun out of it?

No, we never tire of that. Or of nonchalantly pawing through the grass while a dog bounds toward us, waiting till the last possible moment to leap to safety.

Sorry, but only a living animal looks good in a fur coat -- and even then only if it's his/her own! Besides, haven't you shed some of your underfur for the season in order to keep cooler?

Yes, we're all wearing the Summer Couture Collection, designed by Mary Kate and Ashley, who, you will not be surprised to learn, are part raccoon.

Ask my Broder Collie friend Spot about coyotes. Actually you cant ask Spot anything sicnc he was lured by a coyote girl in heat into a trap and was attacked and killed by 4 male coyotes who then had sheep for lunch. See you believe the cartoon. Canids are the smartest species on the planet. My human picks up this collie girls poop!

My god. That sounds like a Quentin Tarantino movie: "Reservoir Coyotes." I can hear Steeler's Wheel playing in the background.

Where are the best sprinklers in town?

I like SplashDown WaterPark in Manassas. They have a squirrel discount.

Cat climbed tree; squirrell followed. Standoff, with cat chittering his displeasure, and squirrel just watching, waiting. Squirrel gave way first, jumped to the other tree limb. Cat climbed down gracefurrly. So, there!

All I will say is: Nobody ever had to call the fire department to get a squirrel down from a tree.

We have a few in our neighborhood in the suburbs. Thoughts?

They all came from up north, or their ancestors did: "Where did D.C.'s black squirrels come from? Blame Canada."

How embarrassing!

For real? No, this is the Matrix. Sheesh.

If you're someplace really hot, here's how you cool down -- go to someplace even hotter, like out of the shade into the sun, or up onto the roof, or whatever, and stay there until you can't stand it anymore. Then go back to wherever you were and by comparison it'll feel cold. Repeat as necessary. Mind power, my friend, mind power.

Well, let's really make this work: Everybody open your doors and turn your ovens on full. Then roll down the windows in your cars and put the heaters on. Surely we can get it up to 120 degrees or so, so it will feel better when we turn off the oven and the heater and find it's "only" 105.

Any truth to the rumor that even the region's black and grey squirrels have scorched and now look like their red Eurasian cousins?

I've always found the black squirrels very stylish -- they go with everything -- but these days I am definitely happy that I have a light silvery coat. I sort of look like Emmylou Harris.

Hey fleabag, have you ever tried to hop on the metro to stay cool? No one would notice.

The problem is I'm afraid I'll get my paws stuck in the escalator grates. Of course, since the escalators usually aren't working, maybe I needn't worry.

No, no! It's " I know nut-think!"

That guy could definitely put away the sachertorte.

I'm going to go skinny dipping in the tidal basin around 3:00 today. Want to come with?

It depends. What famous celebrity do you most resemble?

What's the use of being a rodent if you don't put those teeth to good use? Gnaw yourself into some air conditioned building and be out of the heat already.

I just got my teeth capped. I don't want to wreck them.

Well, it doesn't look like there will be a baby panda this year. Baby pandas are sooooo much cutier than baby squirrels.

Yes, sad news. But maybe people will focus more on all the squirrels at the zoo.

Even seen the white squirrels in Olney, Illinois? Good camouflage in winter...

And a nice heat reflector in summer.

Where's the best place to build a loafing platform to cool off in this heat?

A loafing platform? I think somewhere over on Capitol Hill.

I apologize my dog for stalking you all over the neighborhood this morning. It is his life's joy. He really just wants to tree you.

And I want to ground him.

Mr. Squirrel, as a graduate of Haverford College in Haverford, PA, whose athletic mascot is THE BLACK SQUIRREL, I salute you! Stay cool, my friend.

Thank you. You do the same.

Really, this is dangerous weather. I have to be outside, but you probably don't. Stay inside near the AC. Drink plenty of water. And keep thinking of autumn. It will be here in no time, and with it, my heart's desire: nuts, glorious nuts.

In This Chat
DC Squirrel
DC Squirrel may be the most common of mammals, but The Washington Post's John Kelly devoted an entire week's worth of columns to this furry creature. Now DC squirrel just spends its time paling around other mammals in the city and tweeting. Follow @DCSquirrel on Twitter for your daily dose of nuttiness.
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