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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 is a bully and jumped on cat USA
Squirrels Boyfriend wants to shoot cute squirrels USA
Dogs Roll Yellow Lab loves to kill squirrels and roll on them USA
Squirrels Squirrel out from BBQ cover USA
Squirrels Squirrel hidng under BBQ cover since yesterday USA
Penguins Studying Penguins USA
Baboons Change Culture Ways human society can eliminate war USA
Squirrel Defenses Squirrel seems distressed USA
Squirrels Squirrel ate through bedroom screen Canada
Stimulus Why do you get startled? India

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First 10 letters

Squirrel is a bully and jumped on cat

Topic: Squirrels


June 6, 2009

There are a lot of wild squirrels at my new apartment complex and am lucky enough to have a mama squirrel eat peanuts on my balcony. There is a gray squirrel who I call, "The Bully" as he chases all the others. He sits on the fence and taps his front paws. What does that mean? I feel he is showing off his dominance. If you could answer this for me I would really appreciate it. I have been trying to figure him out for quite a while and couldn't find a site where I could ask someone....until now. This morning he jumped on a stray cat and scared away that poor kitty. Thank you for your site.

Patti - USA



Some male squirrels become very aggressive--trying to show their dominance--during mating season. I'm not sure what tapping his front paws means. I've never seen that, but it must be some sort of warning signal to the other squirrels.

Sometimes squirrels chatter, but that doesn't seem to have much to do with trying to be dominant. Flicking the tail is more to distract predators. Typically, when I've seen squirrels chasing off others by the peanut feeder, they simply make a rush toward the other one.

I am surprised that The Bully jumped on a cat's back. This guy really is a tough bully.

Enjoy observing your squirrels.

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Boyfriend wants to shoot cute squirrels

Topic: Squirrels


March 28, 2009

Hi my name is Katie. i live in Michigan and we have some red squirrels coming into are yard. my boyfriend wants to shoot them because he heard they will rip the balls of other squirrels to better there chance at breeding and it bothers him a lot!!!!!!!! I told him that sounds very false can you tell me if that is true or not so i can keep him from killing all are cute little red squirrels.




The story about male squirrels ripping off the balls of other male squirrels is false. It is a story someone came up with to try to explain why many male squirrels don't seem that have testicles. The balls of male squirrels only show up during mating season. The rest of the year, they are very small.

Why would he want to shoot some innocent squirrels? Even if the story was true, how would he know which ones to shoot?

Tell him to leave the squirrels alone and let Nature take care of things.

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Yellow Lab loves to kill squirrels and roll on them

Topic: Dogs Roll


February 6, 2009

Our family rescued a stray dog about 9 months ago, a yellow lab. He is a little over a year or two. We live on 30 acres and besides being a great addition to our family, he continues to hunt squirels and birds, killing them, and proceeds to roll all over them.He smells aweful all of the time. We bath him and within two hours he is back in it. We hate to have to pin him up all the time or put him on a ground anchor with a cord but we are running out of ideas. He is such a great dog, loving and such a people dog. We just want him to smell good so we can continue to love him and enjoy playing with him.

suzy - USA



The problem is that he isn't killing those animals for food or as part of hunting with his owners, but is just doing that for fun. Letting him loose like that is a sure way to have him get hit by a car or getting into some problem like biting someone.

You wouldn't let your children run loose, doing whatever they want, so you shouldn't let your dog do that either. Too much freedom results in unruly children and dogs.

Yellow Labs are smart dogs and easily trained. And they love to be with people. It is better to keep him tethered some of the time and letting him run when supervised. Also, taking him with you when you go places is great. Dogs love that.

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Squirrel out from BBQ cover

Topic: Squirrels


January 16, 2009

Thank you for your reply. We carefully took the cover off and the squirrel took off. So I assume he wasn't sick, perhaps he was stuck, I guess we'll never know. I've seen a squirrel under the cover before, but never for that long a time.

Rosemary - USA



Well, I'm glad the little fellow isn't stuck there. It is also hard to tell why they do certain things.

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Squirrel hidng under BBQ cover since yesterday

Topic: Squirrels


January 14, 2009

I'm so glad to have found this website. We have a red squirrel that has been underneath the bbq cover since yesterday afternoon. It squeaks when he's touched on top through the cover. Do you think he is sick? Should I just leave him alone. We have a dog that sniffs around and sometimes barks.




It doesn't sound like a natural thing for a squirrel to do. It is unlikely that it created a nest there this time of the year.

Do you think the squirrel is stuck or caught in there? If you can carefully take the cover off, you might see what the problem is. Of course, don't have your dog around when you do that. Also, you don't want to frighten the squirrel so that it panics.

I hope you can find a solution. Let me know what happens.

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Studying Penguins

Topic: Penguins


December 1, 2008

I am a student at Mabry middle School. My name is Meghan. My group and I are making a movie about Antarctic penguins adaptations. We are researching the adelie, gentoo, and chinstrap. Your information was very helpful but we still have more questions. The following are the questions we have. It would be of great help if you could answer them or lead us to a source that could help. Thank you for your time.
1. Why are penguins put into captivity?
2. Does captivity have a positive or negative effect on penguins?
3. What are the effects?
4. What can we do to help?
5. Why do penguins have dense bones?

Meghan - USA



The reason Penguins are put into captivity is the same reason you put other animals in zoos -- mainly for the entertainment and education of people. In some cases, Penguins are put in to captivity to study their behavior and health issues.

The positive side of captivity is that the Penguins are well fed, but the negative effects are that there confined to close quarters and are not allowed to swim great distances were do things that Penguins naturally do. This can create psychological problems for the Penguins and makes for unhappy animals.

With global warming, some breeds of Penguins may be threatened with extinction. In such a case, captivity is a last resort to prevent complete extinction of the breed.

Zoos and animal parks are trying to improve the environment other animals including penguins they have on display. You can help by encouraging your local zoo to have good conditions for the Penguins they have.

Birds have low density bones, to reduce their weight so they can fly. Since Penguins don't fly, dense bones are an advantage for swimming.

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Ways human society can eliminate war

Topic: Baboons Change Culture


October 16, 2008

A future unit in a social studies course I am teaching to middle school students in New York City will deal with ways human society can eliminate war as an option.
I recently saw a documentary on TV about this troupe of baboons but cannot find it....I believe there is a video of the show for sale. Is there any chance you can help me find this. This story gives SO MUCH HOPE.

Philip - USA



You might try

Baboons are fairly aggressive animals and fight often. They are not a good example for human society. The best example of a peaceful ape society is among the bonobos. See and

Best wishes in teaching your students about peaceful ways.

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Squirrel seems distressed

Topic: Squirrel Defenses


September 21, 2008

We have a squirrel that comes up and feeds out a squirrel feeder while I sit less than a foot away usually reading or enjoying the fresh air. She is usually very defensive of other squirrels and will chase other squirrels away unless they are her own. She allows her own younger brood to eat the scattered corn and seeds that I sweep off our patio. Recently she climbed up on the doorscreen and began this gutteral sound from her throat which later turned into an almost whimpering cry. I looked around and tried to find the source of her distress but couldn't see anything. She would continue this while hanging upside down from the screen until I went to open the door to get a better view outside and see if I could get a better view. She would come down from the screen and stop whimpering when I would come and open the back door a little and attempt to find out what was wrong. This has happened a couple of times and I don't have a clue to what is causing her such distress. Is there anything I can do or any advice that you can give me.

Randy - USA



We have a few older squirrels who are aggressive and don't let others near our feeder while enjoying the food. Both are females.

Squirrels do make a funny noise that some call chattering but sounds more like a gurgling sound. Usually, they are up in a tree making the noise.

We get squirrels that will look in the window or even jump on the screen to let us know that the feeder is empty. But it sounds like you had enough food that this wasn't the reason for the behavior.

Perhaps its mate or one of its litter was injured, and the squirrel is showing distress to you as a "friend". There really isn't much you can do about it, since such things happen in nature. Hopefully, soon her distress will pass.

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Squirrel ate through bedroom screen

Topic: Squirrels


July 23, 2008

We had a female squirrel and two baby squirrels who broke into our attic this past spring. They made a lot of noise at night tearing out the insulation, and kept us awake for a few nights. The wildlife company came and made sure that they left, and closed the hole they had used to enter (now it is covered with metal, so they cannot get in from there anymore). In the past week, however, twice a squirrel made a hole in our bedroom window-net, something that had never happened before, neither to us nor to our neighbors. Since this squirrel came back twice, I was wondering what was the cause for this. Is it possible that it is one of those who were living in our attic, and is coming back to reclaim his home? The fact that he made a hole in our bedroom makes me think of this, since there is no food there, and since they used to live exactly in the area above our bedroom. What can we do? I would hate having to keep my windows closed whenever we are not in the room.

John - Canada



Probably, the squirrel was trying to get back into the attic nest. Since the other entrance was blocked, it was looking for another way to get in. Your attic must have been a comfortable nest.

Once suggestion is to place an owl decoy near your window to scare off the squirrels. A fixed decoy costs around $20. Many garden or hardware stores sell them.

There is a new "flying" owl decoy too:

There is also a squirrel repellent at:

Squirrels are persistent little fellows, so I hope one of these solutions help.

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Why do you get startled?

Topic: Stimulus


July 13, 2008

If somebody shouts suddenly right behind us we get startled. give reason

Sheli - India



Humans and animals have a natural defensive reflex to get startled at loud noises. This can be even seen with small babies.

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