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Squirrel Tricks Stun Scientists

The common gray squirrel - with its exceptional mental and physical agility - is making biologists look twice.


Photo: Peter Rowley

These quick-witted critters are extremely resourceful.

Getting a little “squirrely” may not be such a bad thing!

These quick-witted critters are extremely resourceful, which is why they have become so commonplace in our towns and neighborhoods. Some may even call them an invasive species.

Constantly facing the threat of hyper canines and speeding soccer moms, squirrels have got to stay on their toes! Squirrels have amazingly aerobatic bodies to match their quick, flexible minds. This is why they are able to skip along power lines and play Frogger on even the busiest of intersections.

Observing squirrel behavior has become the passion for many fascinated scientists. Dr. John Koprowski  at the University of Arizona has even dedicated his life’s research to this clever species.

Read More:

  • Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive (NYTimes)
  • John L. Koprowski’s Squirrel Studies (UofArizona)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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  • Jack Hockett

    I have a Gray squirrel that I rescued and have raised.  I found him after his mother was killed by a feral cat in my front yard. I have 2 tall Douglas Fir trees and they were using the shorter one for a nest site. I used the resources of the Internet and advice from a close friend that had raised a rescued brother and sister, to figure out what was needed.  His name is Art, as in the Artful Dodger.  He is every bit a wild squirrel that thinks I’m his mother.  I found him last April at approximately 5 weeks of age.  He will be 6 months old on 9/11.  He remains close to the nestbox I built which is mounted on a Fir tree in back.  I have recorded video, bi-weekly newsletters to close friends, and diligently observed very closely the day to day behavior of him and the interactions with his peers.  I would love to exchange data with someone interested.
     I’ve read studies online and from what I read, they are way off on a lot of things.  Squirrel castration is no accident.  The local alpha male is adamant about keeping “strays” from interloping with females.  For starters.

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