Have you ever been outside and seen a squirrel suddenly start stomping its feet on the ground? It can look pretty funny, but those little foot stomps are an important way that squirrels communicate. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what it means when squirrels stomp their feet and other ways they communicate, too. Read on to learn more about the mysterious world of squirrel communication!
What Does It Mean When a Squirrel Stomps Its Feet?
When a squirrel starts rapidly stomping its hind feet on the ground, it’s trying to send a message. There are a few different reasons why a squirrel might communicate this way:
Warning of Danger
One of the most common reasons for foot stomping is to warn other squirrels of potential danger. If a squirrel spots a predator like a hawk, cat, or fox, it will let out a series of rapid foot stomps. This creates a loud noise to alert other squirrels in the area that a threat is nearby. The foot stomp warning gives squirrels a chance to get to safety.
The next time you hear aggressive and fast squirrel foot stomping, check the area carefully for predators. But don’t worry too much – the squirrel is just looking out for its furry friends!
Foot stomping in squirrels can also be territorial behaviour. Male squirrels may stomp to claim their turf and establish dominance over other males. It’s a way for them to say, “Hey, this area belongs to me!”
If you see two male squirrels facing off with lots of foot-stomping, they are likely competing for control of that space. It’s best not to get too close, as they could become aggressive while figuring out their hierarchy. The outcome of the foot stomping match determines who gets prime access to food and mates in that zone.
Frustration or Stress
Sometimes, squirrels will foot stomp when they are frustrated or stressed. Situations that could trigger this include being unable to reach food or escape from a threat. The foot stomping is an outlet for the squirrel’s internal agitation.
If the squirrel doesn’t seem to be reacting to any external danger or competing squirrels, foot stomping may just indicate it’s having a bad day! It’s best just to give it some space until it calms down. Don’t worry, though. The squirrel will likely return to its normal foraging once whatever is causing its stress disappears.
Believe it or not, sometimes squirrels will stomp their feet when they are bored! Particularly squirrels who live around humans in parks or campuses. If they don’t have to worry much about predators and have an easy food source, squirrels will have more free time. They may stomp their feet to break up the monotony and keep themselves entertained.
So next time you see a squirrel foot stomping for no obvious reason, it could just be their way of curing boredom! If you want to help keep it engaged, try putting out some new toys or obstacles containing food. A little extra enrichment and challenge can go a long way to keeping a smart squirrel’s mind active and staving off the boredom stomps!
## How else do squirrels communicate
Stomping isn’t the only way squirrels talk to each other. Here are some other types of communication to listen and watch for:
Squirrels make all kinds of interesting sounds beyond the familiar chirping. Pay attention, and you may hear:
- Chucking – When startled, squirrels will make a low chucking sound. This is an alarm noise similar to foot stomping.
- Chattering – Squirrels rapidly click their teeth together to express agitation or scold perceived threats. Listen for very fast clicking if a squirrel is unhappy.
- Moaning – A long, moaning whine indicates a squirrel is in severe distress. This could mean it is badly injured or dying.
- Screaming – Mother squirrels will use a high-pitched scream to warn their babies of danger and call them back to the nest. If you hear this, steer clear of the area so you don’t get between mom and her kits!
Like cats and dogs, squirrel body language is an important communication method. Here are some clues to understand their non-verbal messages:
- Tail flicking – A squirrel flicking its tail rapidly shows arousal or agitation. It may be warning you away from its claimed area.
- Teeth chattering – As mentioned above, fast tooth clicking is a scolding behaviour. It’s the squirrel equivalent of “back off!”
- Puffed-up fur – A squirrel may poof out its tail and body fur to look bigger and more threatening. This is typically a bluffing behaviour if they feel vulnerable.
- Freezing – If a squirrel suddenly becomes motionless, it is indicating heightened alertness to potential threats. Don’t approach it until the frozen posture ends.
- Scooting – A squirrel lying flat and silently scooting away indicates extreme fear. Again, leave it alone until the tension subsides.
Squirrels have a strong sense of smell. They leave scents that convey messages to other squirrels. Look for these forms of chemical communication:
- Urine – Squirrel’s urine mark to claim territory and identify themselves. The smells provide a record of who has been in the area.
- Rubs – Squirrels have scent glands on their paws and face. By scratching trees or rubbing themselves places, they distribute scents.
- Dreys – Squirrel nests in trees called dreys carry the smell of their inhabitants. This identifies whose home it is.
- Food caches – When storing food, squirrels will scent mark cache sites to recognize them later. The smells signal, “my nut stash, keep out!”