Squirrels are highly territorial, and they aren’t afraid to be loud and even rude about it. Large predators like dogs invading their space aren’t something the squirrels take lightly.
Sometimes, the behavior you see as teasing is actually a defensive maneuver designed to harass the dog away from a nest to protect a squirrel’s home and babies. Why do squirrels tease dogs?
The main reason squirrels will tease dogs is to get them to chase them in order to protect their nest with babies inside. However, some squirrels are merely being more aggressive about their territory and teasing the dog will convince it to leave. Alternatively, some squirrels will tease dogs for entertainment, just to relieve boredom.
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Do Squirrels Mock Dogs
Squirrels are wily, and they can be both obnoxious and downright dangerous given the opportunity. If you think a squirrel is mocking your dog, you’re probably right.
These tough, quick little omnivores are highly territorial and easily bored. Moreover, dogs are natural predators for squirrels, so there’s no love lost between the species to begin with.
Arboreal or tree squirrels, in particular, have been known to taunt and tease dogs, intentionally causing them distress and frustration.
A squirrel may climb just far enough down a tree to make your dog think it stands a chance of catching them. Then when the dog rushes them, the squirrel waits until the last second to scamper up or around the tree to safety.
You can see a great example of this behavior in this video.
Similarly, a squirrel may stay up in the tree and chitter and shriek at the dog. While they aren’t saying ‘you can’t catch me,’ they might as well.
The noises annoy dogs, who are typically bright enough to understand that they can’t catch squirrels up in a tree. As rude as that is, there’s another call they can use to infuriate and mock your dog.
According to Independent UK, “Squirrels have been recorded using high-pitched ultrasonic “whispers” that are inaudible to the human ear but warn each other of danger. It is the first time that any animal has been found to use ultrasound for an alarm call although high-frequency sounds well beyond the range of human hearing are widely used by bats.”
A squirrel can do the same thing as a dog whistle, and humans will never know, but your dog hears it.
If that wasn’t enough, squirrels have another way of mocking and annoying your dog. Height is a significant advantage, especially if you have rocks, nuts, and hands with thumbs to throw them down.
Squirrels are not above pelting dogs with whatever they can get their hands on.
Why Do Dogs Want To Kill Squirrels
Dogs are all descended from wolves, and they are hunters by nature. Without human interference, they would still be chasing smaller animals for meals, and some still do. Dogs want to kill squirrels because they are food.
Moreover, people created many breeds of dogs to hunt rodents. Squirrels are rodents, albeit adorable, fluffy-tailed tree-dwelling members of the family.
As predators, even your favorite domestic Fidos and Spots have the same instincts that served their ancestors. It’s not that dogs are looking for a fight, but if a squirrel starts one, they have more reason than usual to want them dead.
Why Do Squirrels Chatter At Dogs
When you and your dog wander into a space the squirrel thinks of as home, they are more than likely to give you a piece of their mind by mouthing off to you.
Squirrels chatter for several reasons, all of which are related to survival. Your dog is a threat to the squirrels, and they both know it.
1 – Scolding
If you live in a squirrel heavy area, then you are likely very familiar with squirrel scolding. Sometimes it seems as though they are sitting in their trees, either cursing at you or telling you off for some perceived offense.
Oddly, this is pretty much exactly what they are doing. Squirrels chatter at your dog to tell it to go away.
What the squirrel is doing by yelling at the dog is trying to intimidate it. While this doesn’t seem like it would work, in nature, animals that can’t win a fight typically walk away.
Squirrel’s scolding chatter is surprisingly effective for getting dogs and other large predators to leave.
2 – Distracting
Another reason squirrels chatter at dogs is to get their attention. Beyond merely seeking to annoy them, a squirrel may need to draw a dog’s attention away.
Sometimes another squirrel needs a moment to get up a tree, such as a desirable mate or a young baby just out of the nest. By chattering at your dog, the squirrel is being heroic in their own small, mostly safe way.
3 – Warning
Things aren’t always what they seem. If your dog shows up and the local squirrels start a ruckus, they might not be directing it at the dog.
Instead, this is a way to warn other squirrels that there’s danger in the area. While squirrels can be highly competitive and territorial, they work together in a limited fashion by passing on warnings and playing.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Squirrels Tease Dogs
Squirrels tease dogs to distract them away from territory or babies most of the time. Yet, bored squirrels will also pick a fight with a dog because they know they’re fast enough to climb away before the pup can come close to them. It’s a way to alleviate boredom or boost morale.
Here are more helpful tips to know why squirrels tease dogs.
- Sometimes squirrels tease dogs just because they can. Like humans and other creatures, squirrels have their own personalities, and not to put too fine a point on it, but some of them are jerks. Animals don’t necessarily have all of the human personality traits and motivations, but they can certainly have a variety.
- Squirrels chatter at dogs, but dogs often bark back. Clearly, the dogs aren’t warning of danger, and they don’t generally engage in taunting. Instead, according to Nature.com, “Some authors suggest that the original function of barks is mobbing (alerting other pack members and calling them in to defend the territory together)16. From this, hunting barks may have also been derived, as their function is to alert humans and lead them to the prey that the dog has found.”
- Dogs aren’t the only ones squirrels tease. They will taunt each other and play games of chase to alleviate boredom. After all, even a squirrel can’t spend every moment hiding nuts and sleeping.
If squirrels are teasing your dog out in nature, you may want to pick a different path for your hiking or meandering.
Though it’s rare, a squirrel could hurt them with a thrown stone or nut. Squirrels chattering at the dog are trying to scare and scold it out of their home.
Plus, some squirrels are just bored or rude and will taunt and tease your poor pup for the amusement it gives them.