Squirrel Facts (Elvis the Pelvis)

So much for the natives feeling less antipathy towards their compatriots.

Elvis, an injured red squirrel, attacked a pensioner who came to his aid at the weekend, leaving the man needing hospital treatment.
Ernie Gordon, 75, a squirrel fanatic who wrote a children’s book The Adventures of Rusty Red Coat, was called out last Friday to rescue the creature after staff at a local timber yard said they had seen the animal dragging its hind legs. Mr Gordon, a retired civil servant, is known locally for spending each day at Alnwick’s Hulne Park, studying and hand-feeding the squirrels.
The animal was caught, after several attempts, by a girl who threw a towel over it and it was contained in a picnic basket. Mr Gordon took Elvis to the vet, where X-rays revealed he had a broken pelvis – hence the name. The six-month-old went home with Mr Gordon, who built it a small den in a straw-filled lawnmower box.
But when he picked up Elvis, he sank his teeth repeatedly into Mr Gordon’s hands. “It hurt not a little bit, I can tell you,” said Mr Gordon, after having a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics. “You cannot believe the strength or pressure a little squirrel has in its jaw.
“A red squirrel can crack open an almond nutshell with its teeth so you can imagine how it felt.”He took a little bit of persuading to let go but the fingers are fine and there’s no hard feelings.”
After the disagreement, Elvis moved out and is staying in the garage of a mutual friend in a nearby village, Rennington, where the author used to live.
Mr Gordon continues to nurse him, with promising results – contradicting the vet who had initially doubted the squirrel’s ability to remain inactive enough to recover and survive.
Mr Gordon and his friend plan to release Elvis back into the local woods in four weeks. The author said: “This story is just absolutely lovely for the kids. It is a true tale.”
An RSPCA spokesman said anyone who found a sick or injured squirrel should call the RSPCA or a local vet: “Anyone who finds a sick, injured or orphaned squirrel should resist the temptation to pick it up. Remember that squirrels use their teeth to crack open nuts, so they have a very strong bite.” – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/so-thats-the-thanks-i-get-for-rescuing-you-1009581.html

Evidence of Elvis the Pelvis' attack
Evidence of Elvis the Pelvis' attack

Reading: Animal, Erica Fudge

(Corey Wolfe, Michael Pollan, Erica Fudge, read like cornball-edly obvious fictional names, but their books are great)

At ITP I’m teaching a class called “Animals, People and Those in Between.
This book, in addition to The Animals Reader, was super-useful, covering a lot of ground both on the history of people’s attitudes towards animals (from Aristotle, Descartes and Bentham to Peter Singer, and Tom Regan,  Carol Adams, Yi-Fu Tuan et al), but also a survey on more radical and critical takes on the subject.

Animal is a clear and critical  guide to ‘reading’ animals, and asking questions of everyone trafficking in animals,  from the view points of science, fashion, advertising and philosophy. Fudge gives a great summary of Peter Singer’s work in chapter 2, “Real and Symbolic: Questions of Difference” as well as magic acts revealed in her treatment of Ham the NASA chimp, the His Master’s Voice dog, and PETA + fake fur.

Animal by Erica Fudge
Animal by Erica Fudge

You can get the book on Amazon

This book’s part of the Focus on Contemporary Issues series by Reaktion Books, who has a great series called Animal.  The series’ titles include Ant, Bear, Cockroach, Cat, Crow, Eel, Elephant... They’re written by a spectrum of eminent nature-culture writers. I loved Fly, which covered the natural and cultural histories of, yeah, flies. Author Stephen Connor describes the fly as one who “takes its pleasure promiscuously, restlessly, unswervably, unashamedly…. Each fly is king of his own country. He knows no laws or conventions…He has no work to do—no tyrannical instinct to obey… what freedom is like his?”

This is my kind of reasoned, academic, delicious anthropomorphism.

Return of the Fly collectible
Return of the Fly collectible

Reading: Zoontologies, Carey Wolfe, ed.

Zoontologies, the Question of the Animal is a collection of essays about “those nonhuman beings called animals (who) pose philosophical and ethical questions that go to the root not just of what we think but of who we are. Their presence asks: what happens when the Other can no longer safely be assumed to be human?”

These collections about “The Animal Question” have spawned and multiplied, many of their core contents get re-spun from book to book, so there is a lot of overlap from collection to collection, but also some real gems. My favorite in this book is by Alphonso Lingis, titled “Animal Body, Inhuman Face.” It’s an über-sexy, gorgeously written essay that extends (and exemplifies the often impossibly textual) Deleuze + Guattari’s Becoming-Animal theories, writ on  bodies –  on our bodies as ecosystems, our bodies as animal bodies.

Mathew Calarco’s review of Zoontologies writes that “Lingis’s essay overflows not with examples of “the animal” but with animals (understood broadly as living beings), in their multiplicity and heterogeneity: bacteria, sea anemones, rodents, rabbits, cats, cockatoos, jellyfish, whales, lions, wolves, and foxes, to name only a few…Lingis is also concerned to draw attention to the becomings-animal that are constantly at work at the very core of the human. It is especially during sex, Lingis argues, that human beings undergo such becomings: during orgasm, “our impulses, our passions, are returned to animal irresponsibility” (172); he notes further, in a passage that is sure to shock those readers who are confident that a sharp line can be drawn between the human and the animal in the realm of sex, that, “When we, in our so pregnant expression, make love with someone of our own species, we also make love with the horse and the calf, the kitten and cockatoo, the powdery moths and the lustful crickets”
Textually bestial?

Here’s the book, at Amazon