A whole new meaning to the term squirrel cage

In-the-cageWhoever coined the phrase “squirrel cage” to refer to a fan blower motor cage was on to something.

On May 5, Dan Christeson, a mechanic in the Mason City maintenance garage, turned on the fan blower in one of the Iowa DOT’s Chevy Colorado trucks. To his surprise, the vehicle made a horrible noise.  He said, “It sounded like…thump, thump, thump.”

Dan immediately turned off the fan. Then he heard a chirping sound that he said “sounded like an animal.”

Dan took the truck back to the shop, removed the fan blower motor and squirrel cage. He was surprised to find two baby squirrels nesting inside. (Note: The babies were not injured during the spin cycle of the fan.)

After the squirrels were discovered, Dan called Nancy Paulson, material fabrication inspector, to rescue the orphans.  Nancy, who thought the babies were about two weeks old, took them home to nurture and feed until they can be released at the local nature center.   

But wait… there’s more…

NestingThe next day, while Mason City maintenance garage staff members were getting ready to start their work day, another chirping noise was heard coming from the truck. Guess what? Three more baby squirrels were discovered. Two of the three had fallen into the wheel fender of the truck and were not fairing so well.  Again, it was Nancy to the rescue. She now has five baby squirrels to care for until they can be released into their natural habitat.

Dan said that in all of his years working on vehicles, this is the first time he has encountered actual squirrels in a squirrel cage.


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