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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




Squirrels Squirrel killed and ate another squirrel USA
Squirrel Defenses Squirrels when after my chihuahua USA
Squirrels Squirrels plop down after being fed USA
Squirrels Squirrels suddenly disappeared USA
Squirrels Six squirrels chasing each other USA
Squirrels Baby squirrel has adopted us USA
Squirrels Did squirrel think my kite was a large bird? USA
Squirrels Thinks squirrel is making a nest in the attic Canada
Squirrels Thinks young squirrel had been castrated USA
Rats Pet rat became paralyzed USA

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First 10 letters

Squirrel killed and ate another squirrel

Topic: Squirrels


September 20, 2007

We have a large backyard in florida with a lot of trees. I have seen as many as 5 squirrels at a time running around in the backyard, buirrying nuts, etc., and we have lived here for 10 years. One day, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were looking out the window and witnessed a scragely looking squirrel rolling over a nearly dead squirrel on the ground. The live squirrel had blood on himself and the almost dead squirrel was limp and his face was covered in blood. I was totally traumatized and couldn't watch, but the live squirrel started biting bits of the limp squirrel's face off and eating it and then he chewed off one of the paws of the limp (dead) squirrel. Eventually he dragged the carcus over to the bottom of the tree and left it there. I am not sure if this was a domination male thing or maybe a squirrel from another area tried to take over the territory, but it was so aweful, it was like a murder right in our back yard. I was horrified!

Debbie - USA



That sure does sound terrible. Like other animals, squirrels do fight over territory, food or mates. They also will naturally protect their young. But usually the fight is quite short and more of a chase with one nipping at the other's tail. It is highly unusual for a squirrel to kill another, let alone to start to eat it.

This type of behavior had been seen in chimps, where a mother chimp was apparently mentally deranged and would kill and eat others' infants. The chimp did not look normals and had a distorted appearance. If this squirrel was scraggly, it may have had some mental disease that caused such action.

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Squirrels when after my chihuahua

Topic: Squirrel Defenses


September 16, 2007

This morning I took my dog out and he turned around the corner of the house and found himself face to face with a squirrel. My dog is a small chihuahua mix, usually squirrels avoid him like they do all dogs. But this morning the squirrel held his ground and then started to approach. I picked up my dog and saw another squirrel nearby. Both walked towards us and were almost at my feet. I went inside my house quickly and managed to close the door before they came in. After a few minutes I went out again and they were gone. Why would they do this? Would they bite my dog or me?

cheri - USA



At a distance, squirrels will run away when threatened, but since your dog was so close, they may have thought it was time to fight. Also, they may have sensed that your dog was showing some fear. Another reason the squirrels may have been aggressive is the possibility that their young were nearby.

Since you were by your dog, it is surprising that they did not back off.

You probably won't have this problem again, since usually the squirrels will not be surprised by you and your dog. A squirrel would not attack and bite unless put in a situation where it would have to defend itself. Even when squirrels fight among themselves, they seldom bite each other.

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Squirrels plop down after being fed

Topic: Squirrels


August 19, 2007

Just wanted to know why squirrels will plop down and lay flat, just out of the blue. Our new friend will hear the back door open and in minutes it's there. He/She will sit and wait for the peanuts at the door and take them to our fence, table or tree or just eat them in front of the cats at the patio door. After a few times it will just plop down flat and sprawled out. Then either will sit up and go away or see if anymore are "servings". I thought it might be a cooling down behavior. I thinks it's so cute. Well in any case, it seems to be rather comfortable coming here. No fear as long as the cats stay on the other side of that door!

Robin - USA



Squirrels do like to tease cats, especially when they know the cat can't get them. This may be a way to show the cat it isn't afraid of it. Otherwise, it may just be relaxing after a good meal.

Two of the squirrels that come around our place will run over to our patio door, when we open it. They then come inside a little ways to get a handout. All the other squirrels run away when the door is opened. The smart ones get the most.

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Squirrels suddenly disappeared

Topic: Squirrels


August 12, 2007

All of the squirrels in our wooded environment have disappeared. We did have some street paving done in our park. That was weeks ago and there has been no return. What are the squirrels telling us? Thanks so much.

A.J. - USA



It is possible that the paving was a threat to them, and they moved to another area. Another possibility is that a predator moved into the area. Several years ago, we had numerous rabbits in the neighborhood, and then they suddenly disappeared. Soon we noticed a couple of red foxes moving through the yards. They probably preyed on the rabbits. Something like that might be why the squirrels disappeared from your woods.

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Six squirrels chasing each other

Topic: Squirrels


July 1, 2007

We live in the city. We just observed five to six gray squirrels running up and down our tree then our neighbor's front tree. They were chattering and tumbling about with each other. Occasionally a small gray squirrel or a small black squirrel would attempt to join in only to be tumbled about and then it would run off. We've never seen so many squirrels in one area. Is this normal behavior? What does it mean?

The "squirrel pack" was observed running up and down our driveway, under our car, up and down our side-yard tree and our neighbor's front yard tree. Is there such a thing as a "squirrel run" like a "coyote run"? Thanks,
Davenport, Iowa

Karen - USA



Usually, they are juvenile squirrels that are playing, while also establishing a pecking order. They may be from the same litter or family. Also, just like young children want to join in when the teens are playing, the smaller ones were either too young or from a different family, so they were rejected from the game.

This type of activity doesn't last too long, and soon the competition becomes more serious. Once a pecking order is established, squirrels will take turns at a bird feeder. You seldom see two squirrels at a time at a feeder. The tougher one will eat, while the others wait their turn in a tree.

I don't think there is anything like a squirrel run.

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Baby squirrel has adopted us

Topic: Squirrels


May 29, 2007

A baby squirrel has decided to become a companion for my two dogs. The first day he was hanging around they chased and batted him around a bit but he keeps coming back. Now they act like he is their friend although I'm terrified they will hurt or kill the little critter. Today when my husband took the two dogs for a walk the squirrel tailed behind them for most of the walk. Of course we think he is cute but is there anything we can do to have our yard a safe zone for squirrel and dogs? When I bring the dogs into the house from the yard, the squirrel lays in the grass sunning himself or stares at the door like we forgot to invite him in??? He runs over our feet like he isn't the least bit afraid of us but we are terrified of him. I even tried moving him to the canel zone across from our property where there are literally 50 squirrels, but he keeps coming back. Is this the smartest baby squirrel on earth or the dumbest?

Karen - USA



Your squirrel sounds really cute. There is reason to be terrified of him.

Some squirrels seem attracted to humans and seem to know which ones won't harm them. Perhaps since he is young, he latched onto you. Or maybe he was someone's pet and was released, so he is used to humans.

I think your dogs think the squirrel is a pet and part of the family, so they probably won't harm it. In fact, they may even protect the squirrel.

If you want to feed your squirrel, you can get roasted and unsalted peanuts, as well as squirrel food from the pet food store. We use a bird feeder that is accessible to the squirrels, but that birds can use too.

There is a point where he will mature and probably go off someplace to start a family. But he may also stick around. Some people even keep squirrels in the house as a pet.

If nothing else, enjoy your squirrel. They are smart animals and fun to watch.

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Did squirrel think my kite was a large bird?

Topic: Squirrels


May 28, 2007

I saw a squirrl acting very strange today. It was laid flat on its stumach with its legs sprawled out behind it. It would move very slowly and not often it looked as if it was sick. We were out flying kites could it be possible that the squirrl thought that it was a bird? if not what do you think would cause sutch strange behavior?




It is possible that the squirrel was sick. But also, squirrels are cautious about large birds. Blue Jays and crows will peck at a squirrel, if they get a chance. Large hawks or eagles will attack a squirrel and try to carry it away for a meal. So, it may be possible that the squirrel saw those big things flying above (your kites) and thought they might be large, dangerous birds.

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Thinks squirrel is making a nest in the attic

Topic: Squirrels


May 20, 2007

a squirrel has moved into a wall of our house by going through a hole in the attic/roof that we can't find. it is making scrating and banging noises that make me believe it is building a nest. i have seen it on the roof and it appears healthy but don't know if it's a pregnant female.
question - if it gives birth in the wall will the total family volunteeringly leave after weaning and never return or must we take more agressive measures and if so what? this is an animal rights household.

peter - Canada



Once the baby squirrels get old enough, they will leave the next and go on their own. Also, the mother will probably go elsewhere in warmer weather.

The problem with finding the entrance and blocking it is that if there are young in your attic area, you don't want to end up with dead animals stuck up there.

Wait until later in the summer and if you can find the entrance and don't see activity, then try to block it off.

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Thinks young squirrel had been castrated

Topic: Squirrels


May 20, 2007

The question about squirrells castarating other squirells is not a myth . I know !
My residence had trees all around it and the windows reached from the floor to the ceiling. From my bedroom window I watched a very young squirell that had been castarated beging used more or less for a slave. He cut limbs and carried moss to build the nest for two adult squirells and would actually kiss the female and love her then the adult male would take over.
How do I know he had been castarated? I saw a very large male entise him away after which I did not see him for days. When he returned, I witnessed the behavior related above.
I had raised this squirrell from a few weeks old on a bottle and when he was old eneogh I gave him his freedom . But he would return in the evenings and hang from a limb and suck the bottle I offered him . He would come home and play wiht me like a kitten, running lll over my back, nestling under my hair and teasing me . They are such beautiful pets.
I was looking for a wittness to what I know about their nature when I discovered your web site, which is excellent. Thank you. I have written several stories about Henry, my pet squirell.

Evelyn - USA



Although I take your word for it, I would be more surprised about a squirrel making another a slave than in a male squirrel castrating a rival.

It would almost seem that it would be easier for a dominant male to kill a younger rival than to be able to bite off its gonads. But stranger things have happened.

One opinion on the subject is at:

Squirrels are truly intelligent animals, and they can be adorable pets. Do you still have Henry?

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Pet rat became paralyzed

Topic: Rats


May 6, 2007

My rat became paralyzed and couldn't move from time to time after an unsuccessful attempt at breeding. I took him to the vet, but the vet said that you could either give shots, or wait until it goes away. I couldn't see my rat in any pain so I agreed to wait. I've waited five months, and I don't see any improvements, I waited three more, he became less frequently paralyzed. I haven't seen any more changes, what's wrong?

Jenny - USA



I'm not sure if your rat has a disorder, was injured, or has a genetic problem in becoming occasionally paralyzed. Although it may not look like he is in pain, it is very difficult to tell with small animals.

Eight months is a long time without any improvements, so it is unlikely he will get much better. I'm not sure what type of shots the vet was going to give your rat.

One thing to remember is that rats generally live only two or three years, so he may be near the end of its life cycle. The best bet is to keep them comfortable and well fed, such that he is a happy rat. You could check with the vet for suggestions also.

I hope your pet will be okay.

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