Category Archives: Social Structure

What Do Squirrels Do With Their Claws?

Claws or Paws

Squirrels are famous for acrobatic feats of daring in their quest to find food and evade predators. Their claws grip the bark as they race through trees at speeds reaching 10 to 15 mph.  These claws are also very useful when someone hasn’t said ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ in front of a fresh batch of peanuts. Remember, good manners will get you far.

Are Squirrels Altruistic?

This squirrel is watching you

Here at the edge of the wood we never see baby squirrels. That’s because their doting mothers keep them snug and warm until the little ones can fend for themselves. But what about orphans?  University Guelph Professor Andrew McAdam, along with researchers from the University of Alberta and McGill University, revealed that red squirrels will adopt pups of relatives that have lost their mothers. Not all the time, mind you, but enough to trend it. We applaud these altruistic moms and wish them a lovely St. Valentine’s Day. Maybe a nice nut log from the kids would say it all?

Do Squirrels need to carry photo id?

Squirrels at the birdseed

Here at the edge of the wood we notice individuals seem to recognize each other. The shy ones know the bold ones and seem to steer clear. The social ones belly up to the feeder together. The very cautious ones skip along the perimeter, and sniff the camera with interest. It turns out squirrels can identify each other through five distinct body scents. According to the research of Dr. Jill M. Mateo new scents get more attention than old. So to answer the question, no squirrels do not need photo id to participate in their society.

Squirrel frenemies

Squirrels eyeing each otherHere at the edge of the wood we noticed that some squirrels will dine quite close and others will not  tolerate each other. Is there a social structure at work? Does it depend on friendship or kinship? We noted some alpha behavior and some diplomatic maneuvers. Clearly these squirrels need to play a larger roll on the world stage. Here they are in front of the newly flowered kousa dogwood and cranberry viburnum.