There’s no doubt about it, squirrels are smart. Just check out the vast number of online videos showing squirrels running through people’s homemade obstacle courses just to get to a nut or two. I have to imagine these people, spending their evenings dreaming up new ways to get a squirrel to try a few more acrobatics so it can munch on some bird seed in the end.
“Hi, honey, how was your day?”
“I can’t talk now. I just thought of a perfect new addition to the squirrel run. It’s got rope and windmills and pipe, and oh, it’s gonna be GREAT!”
“Well, at least have some dinner.”
“Can’t eat now. I have to draw it out on paper. Where’s my protractor?!”
The amazing thing is, squirrels do figure out how to get through these elaborate obstacle courses. They’ll run and jump and hang upside down, and risk their lives to the immense pleasure of the people who dream up these squirrel runs. Imagine that morning phone call, “Hi, boss? I can’t come in. Today, the squirrels are trying to figure out how to get the food I put out for them.” Do these people take squirrel days instead of sick days?
Then, there are the people whose neighbors snicker about how they talk to the trees. They name each squirrel in their backyard – heaven only knows how they keep track of each one – and then they go outside with a handful of seeds and call up into the trees. Some of the squirrels seem to respond. They know which names they’ve been given, or at least recognize the tone of voice, and, although they are still wild, they figure out when it’s their turn to grab some chow. Hey, we all need a hobby, right?
Usually, when we hear or read something about how intelligent squirrels are, we assume they are only using their smarts to obtain food. So, one of our clients was surprised when he witnessed a squirrel attempting to free another squirrel. No food was involved, simply heroics.
We had been asked to set out traps to get rid of a squirrel infestation on a large property. The squirrels were causing a lot of damage and posing a health and safety risk. We were catching 40 to 50 squirrels over a six week period. One day, this client looked out his window and noticed a squirrel caught in one of our traps. Another squirrel was repeatedly running into it, banging it again and again. It would stop every now and then to check on the progress of its work, and then set to bumping it just a little bit further. Finally, the trap fell off the retaining wall. It didn’t break the trap, but the squirrel was trying everything it could think of to spring his friend from capture.
Yes, squirrels are smart, and amazing animals. They still cause a lot of property damage and bring infestations and smells into your home or business. Let’s admire them, even build obstacle courses for them or give them names, but let’s keep them at a distance.