The Behavior Of Squirrels

This article is from a post at The Everyday Adventurer. It tells about the behavioral differences I've noticed in the several species of squirrels I've encountered. Squirrels are actually very interesting little creatures that are much more intelligent than most of us realize. And each kind has their own peculiar personality traits.

The first thing I want to say about it is that these are my own personal observations about squirrels in my area. It may be different for other squirrels in other places and environments. The squirrels I encounter are all forest dwellers, so they're a little wilder than a typical neighborhood squirrel. So let's see what I've noticed about each of them!

I'll start with the fox squirrels. That's the cool little guy on the right. These are the most abundant squirrels in my area. I grew up with them in my neighborhoods, and they're also here in the forests I visit. I think the fox squirrels are the most outgoing of all the squirrels I've seen. They're not afraid to approach a human. And they will even seem to try to interact with me a little bit when they are brave enough to come close.

They seem very friendly, but they are feisty too, so they can have a temper. They're not at all afraid to show their anger at a person, chattering away as if they're yelling angrily at you. They're also not quick to run away. They are perfectly willing to challenge any human if they feel the need.

The picture to the left is an eastern gray squirrel. I don't have much experience with them because they're not as common here as they are everywhere else. For that reason, I wrote a post about a week ago mistaking it for a fox squirrel. That white eye ring gives it away as a gray.

I'm just now beginning to see more of these gray squirrels. They seem a little more afraid of humans than the fox squirrels. That may be because they are not as numerous here as the fox squirrels are. I usually only catch glimpses of them in the thick bushes and trees. When they come out, they maintain a distance from me. The picture above is the best one for these grays that I have so far. He ran away soon after.

This next squirrel to the right is the mysterious black squirrel. His tail looks reddish because the sun is shining brightly from behind him.  These are actually just gray squirrels with black fur. They keep in tight knit groups, but around here they are numerous. I seem to live in the middle of one very large population of black squirrels. Not many people can say that.

Black squirrels here in the forest are very wary of humans. I almost never see them up close. The ones I see in my neighborhood are a little more out going. The forest blacks behave very similarly to the grays. The only difference is that there are too many black squirrels to stay hidden for long. They don't like to approach humans, and they run away to hide if they see me watching them, even from a distance. These squirrels don't like to be alone though. Usually if I see one black squirrel, there are more very near.

And lastly, on the left, there is the American red squirrel. These are the cutest squirrels I've ever seen. They are smaller than all the rest here. The fox squirrel being the largest is at least twice as big, while the grays and blacks are not quite as big as the foxes. I consider these to be the most intriguing little squirrels of all.

Red squirrels seem to be very solitary little creatures. I never see more than one at a time. All the others can be found together at times. These reds also seem to be the most curious. They scare very easily. They will run and hide, but soon you will see the squirrel pop its head out to look at you. Sometimes they will even come back to get a look before scurrying off again. This behavior seems to match chipmunks more than the other types of squirrel.

The only other type of squirrel in this part of Michigan is the flying squirrel. I have never seen one of them because they are nocturnal. One of them would be a wonderful sight to see though.

This is my general observation on the species of squirrels I've encountered. I'm sure I could come up with more, but this probably covers it the best in blogging length. And like I said before, their behavior may be radically different where you live. Different environments can influence any animals behavior. How do the squirrels behave where you live?

Thanks, Bill, for the idea for the post. And thanks to everyone for all of your wonderful comments. They're always much appreciated. I'll leave you today with a photo of a very curious, but wary, little red squirrel.

Th-th-th-that's all, folks!


  1. Fun post, I have a lot just in my yard with a lot of mature trees. I have one that comes down and will snatch large items out of my hand, and they grasp just like we do.I like to chatter back at them.

  2. Great post, I didn't know there were so many. I only knew about the feisty little red ones and thought they were all the same. Love that last photo


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