Squirrely Behavior

…for all the motions of a squirrel, even in the most solitary recesses of the forest, imply spectators…

~Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday I posted about deer communication through scent at a community scrape. Are the other animals in our woods communicating to one another with scent? Do they have their own “social media sites”? I placed a trail camera on a very rotten log along one of the forest game trails on our property as it looked like something was actively digging or rubbing in the log debris and enhancing its conversion to fine sawdust. The camera revealed that Eastern Gray Squirrels frequently stop by this log and dig and roll around.

— A squirrel rubbing in the fine debris of a very rotten log

It appears that more than one squirrel is using this log. Is it for a dust bath (they are known to roll in dirt or sand to help rid their fur of parasites)? Is it communication through scent-marking (squirrels do leave scent marks, especially by rubbing their faces on objects and depositing scent from their oral glands)? Or could it be a combination?

— One squirrel displaces another from the rotten log

I have seen similar behavior caught on a trail camera in one other location about a year ago. A squirrel (or multiple squirrels, not sure) was frequently rubbing on a patch of bare ground down by the creek. As in some of these videos, there was a lot of face rubbing, pawing, rolling around, and occasionally pausing to chew or scratch. Though ridding parasites is certainly possible, there is often some erratic behavior much like our goofy deer video from a few posts ago, with random jumping and twisting and turning. A good friend that saw the deer videos told me he also has a squirrel(s) that “goes to a spot where a gutter drainage comes out of the ground, sniffs, and then does all that leaping about in a haphazard way.” This kind of behavior may relate more to chemical cues and some sort of communication it seems.

— A squirrel acting a bit goofy after rubbing/smelling the debris at the community rotten log

I haven’t stuck my nose in the sawdust to see if I notice anything (squirrels also apparently urinate as a means of communication), but I am betting there is a lot of information exchanged between our squirrels at this site. More mysteries to try to solve or simply ponder and appreciate about our wild neighbors.

8 thoughts on “Squirrely Behavior

      • I love my squirrels. One is not afraid of me and jumps right onto the deck when he sees me. I put a little treat in a special place for him.

  1. When humans do ‘tree bathing’ it is a figurative term and I guess for squirrels it is a literal term. Reminds me of chickens dirt bathing.

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