The idea of a "superfood" is appealing: a single, nutrient-rich item that will boost your health and make you feel wonderful. But what happens when one consumer's "superfood" is another's staple? It might take an ecologically-focused superhero to make things right. That's what's going on in South Korea, where an entire squirrel population is struggling to survive against a human population grabbing up acorns, which are considered health miracles when used as the basis for an assortment of meals. The trouble is so serious for the squirrels -- who need approximately 100 acorns each to survive the winter -- that the government has employed "acorn rangers" to fend off the acorn-grabbing public. Although they can't arrest anyone, the rangers are policing public places and university campuses, asking folks to stay away and even hiding acorns under leaves in the hopes that people won't look there. If their efforts fall short, research suggests that at the current pace, South Korea could run out of acorns in 50 years.
Some nutty squirrel facts:
- Squirrels can turn their ankles in half-circles, making them able to move in any direction. They can also jump 10 times their body length.
- In general, squirrels weigh about 1.5 pounds (.7 kg) -- which is equivalent to the amount of food they can eat in a week.
- Squirrels can bite through power lines so easily that they have unwittingly shut down hundreds of grids across the United States over the years, including turning off the NASDAQ stock exchange twice.