From squir­rel sab­o­tage to ac­ci­den­tal stow­aways...

Fortean Times - - Strange Days -

An­drew Wilkins, 25, an es­tate agent from Reigate in Sur­rey, and his girl­friend, Jen, 26, flew out of the UK on 20 Novem­ber to travel around Viet­nam, Thai­land and In­dia for five weeks. While they were away, An­drew left his Volk­swa­gen Golf at Jen’s fa­ther’s home near Craw­ley in Sur­rey. When they re­turned on 23 De­cem­ber, he was dis­mayed to find the gear­stick of his car, which he paid £10,000 for in 2014, was stiff and chang­ing gear was dif­fi­cult. On 29 De­cem­ber, he took the car to the PTA garage in Oxted, Sur­rey. It turned out that a squir­rel (or squir­rels) had turned it into a win­ter store for hun­dreds of acorns. The glove com­part­ment and gear­box were full of acorns, and there were more acorns, as well as a dead rat, un­der the bon­net. “I feel bad,” said An­drew. “I ru­ined their win­ter and all their hard work”. Re­mov­ing nuts and ro­dent took two hours, for which the garage charged £168. in­de­pen­dent.co.uk, 2 Jan 2018.

• A koala sur­vived a 10-mile (16km) jour­ney in Aus­tralia on 16 Septem­ber, stuck un­der a car un­til the driver stopped in Ade­laide and heard the dis­tressed an­i­mal’s cries. “Early in his jour­ney an on­com­ing driver flashed his lights at him and so he thought there must be some­thing wrong with his car,” said Jane Bris­ter, who was called out from Fauna Res­cue. The driver pulled over, but couldn’t find any­thing in the dark. The fe­male koala had crawled into the wheel arch of the four-wheel drive ve­hi­cle while it was parked in the hills on the out­skirts of Ade­laide. The crew of a pass­ing fire en­gine stopped and took off the wheel so that Ms Bris­ter could coax out the pet­ri­fied an­i­mal. “[At first] I could re­ally only see her face and one paw,” said Ms Bris­ter. “She was pinned be­hind the wheel, but for­tu­nately not [caught] in the axle. It took a lot of time and pa­tience to get her out.” The koala es­caped with a

few cuts and singed fur, and was taken to a nearby vet. She was dubbed Kelli, the name of one of the fire­fight­ers who came to her res­cue. Af­ter be­ing cleaned up and mon­i­tored for a week, she was re­leased back into the bush. She was last seen doz­ing in a eu­ca­lyp­tus tree. There are as few as 100,000 koalas left in the world. BBC News, 16 Sept; Sky News, 17 Sept; Times, D.Mail, 18 Sept 2017.

• An­other koala was named ‘Bear Grylls’ in 2015 af­ter it be­came wedged in the grille of a ve­hi­cle trav­el­ling at 100km/h (62mph) in the Ade­laide Hills. Loren Davis saw the koala in her head­lights, but was un­able to stop in time. She only dis­cov­ered it was trapped in the grille when she got home 10km (six miles) away. It only suf­fered mi­nor abra­sions. Three weeks ear­lier, an­other koala was caught by the head in a car grille in Ade­laide’s south­ern suburbs, and es­caped un­scathed. Ap­par­ently, koalas of­ten dis­play a ca­sual dis­re­gard for ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic. ABC Ra­dio (Ade­laide), 24 Sept 2015.

• When me­chan­ics at an auto re­pair shop in New Hamp­shire opened the bon­net of a car to do an oil change, they were con­fronted by an Eastern screech owl sit­ting on the en­gine. “We fig­ured he was ei­ther seek­ing warmth or chas­ing a mouse,” said a po­lice of­fi­cer. The po­lice depart­ment named the owl “Shazam”, prob­a­bly for the bird of prey’s abil­ity to sud­denly ap­pear like some sort of magic trick. Ac­cord­ing to Audubon.org: “De­spite the name, screech-owls do not screech; the voice of this species fea­tures whin­nies and soft trills.” Po­lice said the bird was “very friendly” and was “eas­ily han­dled”. Be­cause the owl ap­peared lethar­gic, it was trans­ported to “On The Wing,” a wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Epping, New Hamp­shire. Peo­ple re­spond­ing to the po­lice depart­ment’s Face­book post thought the whole sit­u­a­tion was a hoot. “That’s a real case of Hoo-Dun­nit,” one per­son wrote. Bos­ton Globe, 16 Dec 2017.

• A rab­bit ended up 12 miles (19km) from home af­ter hop­ping on a car and get­ting trapped in­side the en­gine. Res­i­dents spot­ted the pet and left a note on the wind­screen of the parked car to warn the driver. How­ever, the mo­torist spoke lit­tle English and couldn’t un­der­stand the mes­sage. He only re­alised there was a rab­bit on board when he got home. He dis­cov­ered the an­i­mal stowed away un­der the bon­net and called in the RSPCA. The char­ity’s Manch­ester and Sal­ford branch ap­pealed on Face­book for the owner to claim the pet, which was thought to be be­tween four and five months old. D.Ex­press, 12 Aug 2017.

• A buz­zard was hit by a van and sur­vived for 12 hours with its head stuck in the front grille. The bird of prey was dis­cov­ered by work­ers at a car rental com­pany in Swin­don, Wilt­shire, af­ter the driver of the rented Ford Tran­sit failed to spot it wedged in the body­work. Real­is­ing it was still alive, they took the grille part to free it. It had a bro­ken wing and dis­lo­cated leg, but af­ter be­ing taken to a vet, it was set to make a full re­cov­ery. Western Daily Press, 20 June 2016.

• A bear took a ride on top of a garbage truck in New Mex­ico in late July and trav­elled for at least five miles (8km) on the ve­hi­cle be­fore ar­riv­ing at a site where the Santa Fe For­est Ser­vice kept a fire­fight­ing he­li­copter, where it made its es­cape up a tree. Western Daily Press, 5 Aug 2017.

• Ge­orgie Knox from Air­drie, Al­berta, Canada, found a coy­ote she had hit was em­bed­ded in the front of her car, but still alive. A pedes­trian flagged her down af­ter spot­ting the North Amer­i­can wild dog, made fa­mous by the Wile E Coy­ote char­ac­ter in Road

Run­ner car­toons, wedged in the grille. It was un­hurt, de­spite trav­el­ling 20 miles (32km). It was checked by vets be­fore be­ing freed back into the wild. Sun, 14 Sept 2017.

ABOVE: Kelli, the fe­male koala who sur­vived a 10-mile ride cling­ing to a wheel arch. BE­LOW: Shazam the screech owl.

ABOVE: ‘Bear Grylls’, the lucky koala who was hit by a car do­ing over 60 miles an hour but es­caped with only mi­nor in­juries.

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