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Feedback Q&A on Behavior

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 281 comments and questions on Behavior issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 10 letters




Stimulus Why do people look up at an aeroplane? India
Stimulus Why does a cat prick up its ears? India
Stimulus What are other examples of "plants stimulus"? El Salvador
Hookbills My parrot stopped making noises two days ago SA
Squirrel Defenses Disagree with answers on squirrels USA
Squirrels Group of squirrels ran by in one direction USA
Squirrels Has pet squirrel that is afraid of him Greece
Flocks Where can I watch birds in New Jersey? USA
Squirrels Squirrel 's chewing wakes me up up in the morning USA
Squirrels Another sees a squirrel eating an squirrel USA

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First 10 letters

Why do people look up at an aeroplane?

Topic: Stimulus


July 13, 2008

People look up when an aeroplane passes overhead,high up in the sky.give reason

Sheli - India



They hear the sound and are curious. People who live near the airport do not bother to look up.

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Why does a cat prick up its ears?

Topic: Stimulus


July 13, 2008

when there is the slightest sound, a cat pricks up its ears.give reason
When a beam of light flashes on the eyes,the eyes close quickly.give reason.

Sheli - India



The cat wants to know what the sound is and where it comes from. It wants to know if the sound represents danger or a possible meal. Rub your fingers together behind a cat's head, and you will see its ears face backward to try to identify the sound.

There is a natural reflex to close the eyes to protect them from light that is too bright. If it a dim light, the eyes usually will not close, because the signal is not enough to cause the protection reflex.

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What are other examples of "plants stimulus"?

Topic: Stimulus


April 27, 2008

What are other examples of "plants stimulus"?

P.S. You are a genius by creating this page

Diego - El Salvador



The roots of a plant will sense the existence of metal in the ground that is toxic to it, such as a piece of copper. The root will grow in a direction avoiding that piece of copper.

A Venus Fly Trap plant will close its leaf on an insect when the hairs on the leaf are stimulated by the insect.

Trees at the edge of a grove are usually thicker because of the stimulus of wind that others don't receive.

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My parrot stopped making noises two days ago

Topic: Hookbills


March 16, 2008

My parrot stopped making noises two days ago.
It eats well every day but just does not make any sound what so ever, whereas before it screams, whistle and sang a tune.
Is my parrot sick?

Marina - SA



Sometimes parrots will stop talking for a while if they are upset about some change in their environment. In such a case, try to comfort it and spend a little more time giving it attention. They are very social birds.

But also, check your parrot's eyes and feathers to see if it might be sick. Illness is another reason to stop talking. If you think it is ill, check with your vet.

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Disagree with answers on squirrels

Topic: Squirrel Defenses


December 5, 2007

The person answering questions regarding the rapid movement or the flicking of the squirrel tail claims that it is to "distract". This answer couldn't be further from the truth. Squirrels use their tails to communicate wither it’s to warn other squirrels of their territory, of danger and for attracting a mate. Anyone who was raised in the country or who is a hunter knows this to be true. Next time you go to the park look for yourself. Also this same person with all the answers claims that squirrels tails will detach like that of a lizard. This also couldn’t be any more wrong!! This explanation makes about as much sense as claiming that one of Humans defenses are that our arms or legs detach when attacked by a shark. I am very curious what the answer might be if the topic was not squirrels but maybe monkeys or cats? Do their tails detach to serve as a defense mechanism too? Absolutely ridicules answers coming from someone who obviously doesn’t know. Their tails do not naturally detach to serve as some “decoy” that wiggles around like the tails on lizards.




The answers to the questions are based on scientific research by various agencies.

Squirrels aren't very social animals> Although they may flick their tails to warn others of danger, they also flick their tails to tell other squirrels to stay away from their food supply. See Nature Expert at:

Squirrels also flick their tails to distract and ward off snakes. See scientific article in Nature magazine at:

The Squirrel Sanctuary Inc. states that squirrel tails can break off to escape a predator. See:

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Group of squirrels ran by in one direction

Topic: Squirrels


November 20, 2007

I saw something that amazed me the other day. I was in a very remote wooded area out in the middle of northern Michigan. All of sudden a group of 8 squirrels came running by about 15 yards away. They were fox, red and black squirrels. Then a group of 4 a minute later, then an astonishing group of 14 squirrels. So in a matter of a couple of minutes, 26 squirrels all ran from my right to my left and out of site. What on earth is happening?

Greg - USA



Others have reported seeing such a "run" of squirrels, although not such a range of squirrel types. I don't know of any specific trait for such behavior. My first guess is that there was some serious threat that they were fleeing. Perhaps there was a wildcat, fox or other predator in the vicinity.

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Has pet squirrel that is afraid of him

Topic: Squirrels


October 27, 2007

hello my name is john and i am from greece ,one week before i took a squirrel from a pet shop (yes i think it is legal in my country)i love him ver much but i see some problems at his behavior he is very very frightened every time i aproach he run"s and hide inside his nest or or isnide a the tube tha his cage has i am realy disapointed because i had another squirrel one year ago 9dyed)and he didn"t behave like this hhe was making circles around the cage and was very active and when i put him out of the cage he jumped at me and i palyed with him wand was climbing at me also
but this one i have now sit"s in a position and seem"s realy frightened and not so active what should i do
waiting for a reply with best regard"s from greece

john - Greece



Just like children, some squirrels are shy and others are more outgoing. It takes a while for a shy squirrel to learn to trust you. Putting some food in his tray and then staying nearby until he gets brave enough to come out to eat is a way to let him get familiar with seeing you and getting used to his new surroundings.

It may be quite upsetting for the little guy to be in this strange place, so it will take a while to get used to it. Try not to move fast or to make loud noises that will scare him.

Once he gets used to you and knows that you are the source of his food, he should get more friendly. But he may never be as friendly as your other squirrel.

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Where can I watch birds in New Jersey?

Topic: Flocks


October 15, 2007

Where can I watch flocks of birds in south jersey?

kathy - USA



Check the following websites:

Hope that helps.

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Squirrel 's chewing wakes me up up in the morning

Topic: Squirrels


September 25, 2007

A squirrel 's chewing on my neighbor's gutter wakes me up in the morning! I have observed him and he backs off but when he realizes I can't reach him , he goes back to chewing loudly on the gutter. He also awakens the homeowner. What's this all about? Remedy/

Joan - USA



Squirrels will often chew on things to clean their teeth. Ideally, they will chew on small tree branches. Unfortunately they sometimes chew on power lines, home decorations and such.

You might try something like Ropel, which is a long lasting, extremely bad tasting repellant and will stop squirrels chewing things. It is available at many garden centers. Smearing an an onion-chili pepper paste on the are is also supposed to work.

Spreading something like that on the gutter may discourage the squirrel and prevent damage.

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Another sees a squirrel eating an squirrel

Topic: Squirrels


September 23, 2007

My husband was in on the back porch and noticed a dead squirrel on the ground and another squirrel was eating it. We didn't witness whether the squirel that was alive had killed the other squirrel but it looked healthy, unlike the response I read from the other person. It did eat the head first and started
on the leg. We first noticed it around 11:30 in the morning. It is now almost
7:00P.M. and he has been coming back and still eating it. We have alot of squirrels around and I have never seen anything like this!




Squirrels will eat grubs and even small birds. If short of food, they will eat roadkill. But the idea of squirrel cannibalism seems strange. There have been some reports of male squirrels killing baby squirrels from another male. But that behavior has been seen in various other animals in the wild.

Although rare, there have been some reports of squirrels eating other squirrels. I don't think anyone has seen a squirrel kill another, so it may be a case of eating something like "road kill" or such. I don't think it is normal behavior, though.

The following site has a number of letters from people who have witnessed squirrels eating other animals and other squirrels:

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