Squirrel causes power outage in neighborhood

Uncategorized By May 17, 2023

Squirrels have been identified as a key factor in power outages, due to their tendency to climb trees and explore. They can interfere with the supply of power in several ways, including chewing through power lines and transformers, creating a link between different phases, or causing an impact that disconnects a fuse. Squirrels can also pose a risk to human safety and infrastructure, as they can start fires and power surges. Measures to prevent power outages caused by squirrels include trimming trees, securing electrical equipment, using squirrel repellents, and educating the public.

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When Squirrels Attack: How These Cute Creatures Can Cause Power Outages in Your Neighborhood

If you’ve ever experienced a sudden loss of electricity at home or work, you probably blamed the utility company, the weather, or some other external factor beyond your control. However, have you considered the possibility that a squirrel might be the culprit of the outage? Yes, squirrels, those agile and fuzzy rodents that love to climb trees, eat nuts, and chase each other around, can also disrupt the power grid when they jump or crawl onto electrical equipment. In this article, you will learn how squirrels cause power outages, what risks they pose to human safety and infrastructure, and what you can do to prevent or mitigate their impact.

Section 1: How squirrels get into electrical equipment

Electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed through a complex network of wires, transformers, switches, and other devices that handle high voltages and currents. These components are designed to withstand environmental factors such as rain, wind, and heat, but they are not immune to physical contact by animals or humans. Squirrels, in particular, like to explore their habitat by climbing trees, poles, roofs, and wires, and may accidentally come into contact with electrical equipment or wires that can electrocute them or damage the system. Here are some ways that squirrels can interfere with the power supply:

– Chewing: Squirrels have sharp teeth that can gnaw at wood, plastic, rubber, and even metal. If a squirrel chews on a power line, transformer, or insulator, it can create a short circuit or a ground fault that trips a circuit breaker or a fuse. Moreover, if a squirrel gets electrocuted while biting on a wire, it can cause sparks or fires that can spread to nearby buildings or vegetation.
– Nesting: Squirrels build nests out of leaves, twigs, and other materials that they find in the environment. Sometimes, they choose to build their nests inside electrical equipment, such as transformers or switchgear, that provide shelter and warmth. However, their nests can also create a bridge or a connection between different phases of the power system, which can lead to an overload or a phase-to-phase fault. Moreover, if a squirrel tries to move a nest or a branch that touches a wire, it can cause a flash or an arc that damages the equipment or the squirrel itself.
– Jumping: Squirrels are skilled jumpers that can leap several feet from one object to another. However, if a squirrel jumps from a tree or a pole onto a power line or a transformer, it can cause a mechanical impact that knocks off a connector or a fuse, or even dislodges the whole device from the pole. Moreover, if a squirrel jumps between wires of different voltages or phases, it can create a short circuit that disrupts the balance of the system and trips the protection devices.

Section 2: Why squirrels pose a threat to human safety and infrastructure

While squirrels may look cute and harmless, they can pose serious risks to human safety and infrastructure when they interact with electrical equipment. Here are some reasons why squirrels can cause power outages:

– Fire hazard: A short circuit or an arc caused by a squirrel can generate enough heat or flames to ignite nearby combustible materials, such as dry grass, leaves, or wood. This can lead to a wildfire, especially in dry or windy conditions, that can endanger people, animals, and properties.
– Power surge: When a squirrel causes a fault or a trip in the power system, it can create a voltage surge or an unbalanced condition that affects other equipment or appliances connected to the same circuit. This can damage sensitive electronics, such as computers, TVs, or phones, and cause data loss, corruption, or interruption.
– Power outage: The most obvious consequence of a squirrel interference is a power outage, which can affect thousands of customers, disrupt businesses, schools, hospitals, and public services, and cause inconvenience, frustration, and even economic losses.

Moreover, squirrels can also harm themselves or other animals by getting trapped or injured in electrical equipment. This can cause suffering, death, or secondary effects, such as scavenging and disease transmission, that can affect the ecosystem and public health.

Section 3: What you can do to prevent or mitigate squirrel-caused power outages

Fortunately, there are several measures that you can take to reduce the likelihood or the impact of squirrel interference in the power supply. Some of these include:

– Trimming trees: Keeping trees away from power lines and poles can prevent squirrels from jumping or climbing onto them. You can hire a professional tree trimming service or ask your utility company to inspect and prune the trees in your neighborhood.
– Securing electrical equipment: Installing barriers, enclosures, or covers around electrical equipment can prevent squirrels from accessing them or nesting inside. You can use materials such as steel, plastic, or mesh that are resistant to chew or damage. However, make sure that you follow safety standards and procedures when handling live equipment or working at heights.
– Using squirrel repellents: Applying repellent sprays or powders around electrical equipment or nearby trees can discourage squirrels from approaching them. You can buy commercial products that use natural or synthetic ingredients, such as capsaicin, pepper, or predator urine, to create a distasteful or frightening odor for squirrels. However, make sure that you follow the instructions and warnings on the label, and avoid using toxic substances that can harm humans or other animals.
– Educating the public: Informing your community about the risks and consequences of squirrels in the power grid can raise awareness and promote responsible behavior. You can use social media, posters, flyers, or public events to convey the message and encourage people to report any squirrel sightings or damages to the utility company. Moreover, you can also educate children and adults about the natural history and ecology of squirrels, and how to appreciate them without endangering them or themselves.


Q: Why do squirrels like to chew on electrical wires?
A: Squirrels have teeth that grow continuously, and they need to wear them down by biting hard objects. In the absence of natural materials such as wood or nuts, squirrels may chew on wires or cables that resemble these substrates in texture or taste.

Q: Is it safe to touch a squirrel that is trapped or electrocuted in electrical equipment?
A: No, it is not safe to touch any animal that is in contact with live electrical equipment, as the current can travel through the animal’s body and through any conductive object that touches it. You should contact a professional wildlife rescue service or your utility company to handle the situation safely.

Q: What is the legal status of squirrels in the context of power outages?
A: Squirrels are protected wildlife in many states and countries, and intentionally harming or killing them without a permit can result in fines or imprisonment. However, utility companies are authorized to take measures to protect the reliability and safety of the power grid, and may use lethal or non-lethal methods to remove or deter squirrels from electrical equipment. It is important to follow the regulations and guidelines of your local authorities and utility company when dealing with squirrels in the power supply.