A gray squirrel nibbles on a berry in Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Ariana van den Akker

A squirrel has been blamed for knocking out power to more than 7,000 Central Maine Power customers in Cumberland County on Thursday morning.

Most of those outages were in South Portland, which caused public schools to close Thursday.

CMP said the squirrel got into a South Portland substation.

While it is surprising that one animal can knock out that much power, CMP spokesperson Catharine Hartnett said animals cause nearly 20 percent of the utility’s outages each year.

“We’re installing little mechanisms to prevent squirrels from making that electrical contact, ending their own lives and creating those power outages,”Hartnett said.

CMP said power has been restored to all those affected.