Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Image: Freaking News.

In one of the more amazing stories I’ve read, it was recently reported that Iranian police jailed 14 squirrels — for spying.

Yes, you read that right; spying. It seems that the fluffy rodents, who weigh approximately a pound-and-a-half each, were hanging around near the Iranian border, equipped with eavesdropping devices.

“I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information,” replied the national police chief when asked to confirm the story.

Allegedly, the furry animals were equipped with modern technology including GPS units, cameras, and listening devices. The report also said that the squirrels were trained for espionage and information-gathering and are believed to have been sent to Iran by Israel. The original reports came from the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

“The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services,” reported IRNA. “In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran’s borders.”

“The story is nuts,” said a foreign office source.

“It is complete idiocy,” agreed Robert Baer, a former spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who now writes .. what else? .. spy novels.

But even if this story is not true, animals have been used to spy before; For example, pigeons were used to carry coded messages during Second World War, dolphins were trained to seek out underwater mines, and even recently, dragonflies and moths have been designed as listening devices.

Sources

All things Considered National Public Radio (streaming story) (quote)

Story (quotes)

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    July 25, 2007

    Squirrels spied in Finland for the Soviets for years: red squirrels, obviously.

    Bob

  2. #2 Julie Stahlhut
    July 25, 2007

    But where is moose, dahlink?

  3. #3 Aaron
    July 25, 2007

    The Iranians had better be on their guard… it’s only a matter of time before Morocco Mole tries to spring them from jail.

  4. #4 jim
    July 25, 2007

    One wonders if they’ve taken been reading Steve Jackson Games’ “Illuminati University” a little too closely. (The game mentions various types of squirrels as non-player characters. This being the GURPS universe, things aren’t what they seem.)

    An excerpt:

    Squirrels do indeed follow people around, watching, and at least one person is reported to have been “mugged” by a group of a dozen or two, dropping from the tree above to swarm all over a startled visitor. Reports that they carried away something shiny were denied by the victim.

  5. #5 decrepitoldfool
    July 25, 2007

    LOVE the squirrel illustration!

    This story really isn’t farfetched at all anymore. Before long, any “critter” might be a spy, or not even a real critter. Like this swift.

  6. #6 Bob O'H
    July 25, 2007

    I thought it was worth recounting my own experiences with squirrels as a warning to you all.

    Bob

  7. #7 Eric Johnson
    July 25, 2007

    Is that a squirrel in a chipmunk disguise? A chipmunk disguised as a Spy Squirrel? Or is it really a dwarf groundhog made up to look like a chipmunk impersonating a Spy Squirrel?

  8. #8 judy rothom
    July 26, 2007

    This confirms our suspicions about the pigeons drones near house! You never see a baby pigeon…..just adults.
    The animal are organiZing….hope it isn’t too late!

  9. #9 certhia
    July 26, 2007

    As great as this story is, here’s a brief one that tops it–with theological implications, yet!
    (It’s from yesterday’s Mpls Star Tribune as a sidebar to a long story about squirrels and how to deal with them…) Be afraid…
    Miracle of the Squirrel at http://www.startribune.com/389/story/1321357.html

  10. #10 Michael
    June 30, 2010

    Does anyone know what Iranian squirrel taste like?? Does it taste like chicken(lol)??? Maybe I’ll barbeque it. Yummy.