Friday, October 2, 2009

The Thing About Squirrels


There is something very important I have to explain to you. A little over a week ago I wrote a post titled "Furious Squirrel". In that story I wrote about how a very angry squirrel came very close to attacking me. Many of you found it hard to believe that a normal squirrel would do something like that. Some thought the behavior deviated from anything normal, and maybe there was something wrong with it.

I have to tell you now that it was perfectly normal behavior by a squirrel, and this squirrel was a very normal little forest creature. He had no diseases or dementia. He was just a squirrel. I know that many of you think of squirrels as fuzzy little bushy tailed animal friends that like to come up and beg for breadcrumbs and nuts. And you are actually somewhat correct if that's what you think, but that is actually the same thing that makes them seem so mean at other times.

I want to let you know right now that squirrels are some of my very favorite little creatures. You can find a very large population of them all around where I live. They are fun to watch. They do some seemingly very comical things. I have spent a lot of time laughing at their cute little antics. But there's a reason that the word squirrely also means crazy. The word nuts also means crazy, probably because nuts are associated with squirrels.


One of the things you have to remember is that squirrels, despite being so darn cute, are still wild animals. They also share a large part of their habitat with us humans. They see us every day, so they aren't as afraid of us as some other creatures might be. That's why neighborhood squirrels are so willing to come right up to us and sometimes beg for food.

It's also the very same reason why a forest squirrel would be brave enough to threaten to attack a big human, such as myself. A forest squirrel is much more likely to be angry with us because while they still see us very often, we are invading a space that they don't share with us as often as our neighborhoods. The forest is their home, not ours. They see us as trespassers. There are also other forest creatures that behave in this same sort of way.

I have told you many stories over the past year of my encounters with squirrels, so if you look through my archives you'll see many different types of behavior from them. Some do get very angry. Some come running curiously to see what I'm doing. And others are very friendly and don't mind me at all. I've also had very similar experiences with deer, some threatening to attack me because I was in a place they claimed as their own.



I just recently showed you an incident where a tribe of squirrels worked together to fight off a hawk that wanted to eat them. This demonstrates a level of intelligence that even I didn't expect. So while we think of squirrels as maybe crazy, or just dumb animals, they are very intelligent and they have reasons for the things they do. I don't always know those reasons.

The one thing I do know is that they have emotions. They feel happy and sad, or even angry. They are just creatures trying to live, just as we are trying to live. While it's a fun thing for us all to watch these funny little creatures, it's also wise to give them their space. They are wild animals. Any wild animal can be unpredictable. Any might attack you for reasons you don't understand.

So show the animals some respect while you try to move in for a photo. I sometimes get very close, but I know when to stop or when to back off, even if I don't always explain that clearly. You can get close, but just watch them for danger signs. I hope that explains just a little bit about our bushy tailed little friends. What do you think?

23 comments:

  1. I haven't been by in a while, but I'm here now, and the site looks fantastic! Just wanted to shout a good on ya mate!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ratty- good info there. My encounter with an angry squirrell was right by my back door, after she had helped herself to all my bird food in the feeder! I felt like I was invading her space then but thinking about it now- she was invading mine!

    I do like your squirrell photos you have on here :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great photos of the squirrels, Ratty! I have some around here that are very stubborn, and challenging to chase away!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Them squirrels are at it again... great photos!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are correct about these cute, entertaining creatures Ratty. Over the years I have observed lots of them but would never attempt to get too close. I have had a few aggressive ones at times who would jump up on my window and start chewing the vinyl right away. I wasn't too happy with those. Did you ever read about the black squirrels in Russia who attacked a dog and ate it?? They all banded together and ganged up on that dog. So if there isn't enough food around I would be very afraid of them.. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  6. you have given some great information about these furry little creatures. it is always best to use precautions with wild animals.

    have a wonderful day my friend...hugz!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You and Ginnymo have given me some fantastic facts on squirrels.

    They are like human. Human are like them.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great points here, Ratty! Frankly, I prefer to discourage squirrels from claiming my yard as their "territory" because they can be so destructive here (and it's not like there isn't many, many other acres they are welcome to!) I respect them for sure, but they destroy my bird feeders or at least spill them all over, and plant black walnut trees in the worst places.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great advice and information. I unfortunately don't get to encounter many animals when taking pictures. Mostly it's just my dog who is the victim of my camera frenzy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Squirrels are so cute and I was so amazed to see so many when I came to the USA... in the streets... I remember in France I would be so lucky to see one in a tree and here they are everywhere. The other day I saw one running across the street, it was so tiny... I just love watching them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your pictures of squirrels are so good. We have squirrels in the back yards but these fellows are so quick that as soon as they hear the sliding door they are gone. Of course the sliding door is quite old and very noisy! I have been luckier taking pictures of them in parks, as they seem to be more used to people.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aria - It's good to see you here! come back as often as you want.
    -

    Bemused - I was thinking about your squirrel encounter when I wrote this story. You already know what hot tempered little beasts they can sometimes be.
    -

    Icy BC - Squirrels are very smart. That makes them stubborn enough to make them think they can always outsmart us.
    -

    Mike - Squirrels never stop their crazy antics.
    -

    Ginnymo - Yeah, I read about those Russian squirrels, but I completely forgot about them. I'm glad you brought that up! They were rampaging over there at that time. There was even a video of one of the squirrel attacks from there.
    -

    PJ - I'm glad I can help show that any wild animal can be dangerous. They're fun to look at, but we have to be careful.
    -

    Rainfield - And just like humans, these squirrels are all crazy.
    -

    WillOaks Studio - They can certainly be a menace. You're right, we shouldn't let them get too close to any of our property, but they're fun to watch anywhere else.
    -

    Ann - Dogs are my favorite animals! They're the one animal a human can say is a true friend.
    -

    Prisqua - Some wild animals like squirrels can show up right in the middle of the city in the USA. We have such big cities that we sometimes forget that just a short time ago this was all wilderness.
    -

    Vagabonde - A park is sometimes the best place to see squirrels. Parks can almost be considered neutral ground for squirrels and humans.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We went for a few hikes over the last two days. During one of them, we stopped at a lake park where campers can use spots and it was totally empty (no campers there). It was beautiful..tall pine trees...(I will post about it this coming week)...but when we arrived, there were two squirrels there that did NOT like us arriving there...they jumped from tree to tree right by us and chattered loudly and I swear one threw a nut our way. They were NOT happy we showed up at their empty campground, that is for sure. I had to laugh at them, but I did keep my distance as they looked as if they were trying to get aggressive towards us if we came any closer to them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Retired One - That's a perfect example of squirrel behavior. They throw acorns at me all the time. We're all lucky they're so small.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What I think is this was another very squirrely post...and fun to read.

    thanks,
    mike
    livelife365

    ReplyDelete
  16. one of my childhood playgrounds was a churchyard....lots of squirrels there...they can be scary little creatures!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I too have had encounters with angry squirrels. Actually , just this past summer, I was walking under a tree and I guess I got to close and a squirrel started throwing nuts and acorns at me from the top of the tree! Believe me, it may sound cute, but something being thrown from that height can be lethal...lol...anyway, yes, squirrels are just being normal when they show aggressive behavior like any animal. I find Chipmunks, though to be quite good tempered. They come right up to me when I am camping and sit with me at teh table when I am having breakfast.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a great informative post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mike Foster - The more squirrely the posts are, the better they are. :)
    -

    allotments4you - Squirrels are such feisty little creatures that at times they can scare the bravest souls.
    -

    Andrea - Squirrels throw things at me very often when I'm in the forest. I agree about the chipmunks, but I've had a few of them get upset with me too. I seem to be able to do that to just about every kind of animal. :)
    -

    Squirrel - Thanks. Squirrels need their true nature to be exposed.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great photos of the squirrels, there are lots of squirrels in back yard of our house.

    ReplyDelete
  21. These photos are rally very close. The squirrell doesn't has even little panic.

    ReplyDelete
  22. New Zealand - Thank you! Thank you very much!
    -

    Music Training Teachers - The squirrels stay away from my house for some reason. I get deer and groundhogs.
    -

    R4 - Squirrels are very brave little creatures.

    ReplyDelete