What do you do when you have a bird feeder set up in your yard and those cute little squirrels keep stealing the food that is meant for the birds? Well, if you are like ex-NASA and Apple engineer turned YouTube sensation Mark Rober, there is obviously only one viable solution. You create “an insanely elaborate Ninja Warrior-esque obstacle course for the squirrel.”
Squirrels, being the smart rodents that they are, figured out how to maneuver his first attempts at creating “squirrel proof” bird feeders. After experiencing the failed attempts, and partially due to the boredom of the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, Mark was inspired to take the ninja warrior approach to solving the problem and created what boingboing.net refers to as “a Rube-Goldberg-and-Wipeout-inspired course.”
According to cnet.com, Mark pulled out all the stops to ensure that his obstacle course is squirrel proof, stating, “There are mazes, rope bridges, catapults… this thing is like Mouse Trap times a million.” If a squirrel is successful in completing the 8-part ninja warrior obstacle course, which some have, it is rewarded with unrestricted access to a massive pile of walnuts, while allowing the birds to feast unhindered. Because some squirrels have figured out a way to master Mark’s course, he has been forced to revamp his idea numerous times. He eventually built the squirrels a custom feeder so that they could feed in peace.
Mark’s YouTube channel has an amazing 1.27 billion total views and 11.7 million subscribers. On Sunday, 24 May 2020, Mark posted a 22-minute video on his YouTube channel, showing his elaborate obstacle course in action. The video has gone from the #34 trending YouTube video when it was first posted to now the #26 trending YouTube video and has garnered more than 12 million views as of 27 May 2020.
Amanda N. Robin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California and co-creator at the Squirrel Gazer, had this to say about Mark Rober’s ninja squirrel obstacle course. She said, “It’s an awesome demonstration of what amazing acrobats and persistent problem-solvers arboreal squirrels are. His obstacles only begin to touch the surface of just how agile and intelligent these iconic backyard visitors really are.”