'Talk about your squirrel assassin': Squirrels eating holiday lights around the Treasure Valley

Posted at 9:22 AM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 11:22:27-05

BOISE, Idaho — The holiday lights are going up all over the Treasure Valley, and while they are lovely to look at, some backyard creatures find them absolutely irresistible.

Idaho Power says squirrels actually think the bulbs of lights are nuts.

"They do especially when the lights are on because it attracts them and so they think those little bulbs, especially when lit like that, are a berry or a nut," said Russ Weedon, Education and Outreach Energy Advisor for Idaho Power.

Weedon says Idaho Power crews have found hoarded plastic nuts in squirrel nests. He says squirrels chew cables to keep their teeth from growing too long.

The squirrels chewing lights can be very dangerous.

"So imagine this possibility: I come home at night, I turn the lights on outside, a spark comes off that wire and sets all this ablaze," says Weedon. "Talk about your squirrel assassin."

As far as we can tell, Idaho Power doesn't think this is paranoid thinking.

"It's a pretty high risk because anytime you have exposed wires on lights, the wires are hot in temperature and hot in electricity and they can be a fire risk."

There are documented cases of squirrels causing fires by chewing wires, but it's pretty rare. If you're losing bulbs to squirrels, Weedon says coating them with cayenne pepper spray usually does the trick.