Squirrels are extremely vocal. They bark, chatter, scream, and purr to communicate with one another. They also communicate through body language, by moving their tails and stomping their feet. Squirrel alarm calls are surprisingly complex. Eastern Gray Squirrels have a number of vocal and tail signals that have different meanings depending on how they are used. A squirrel’s twitching tail tells the tale!
Squirrels are nature’s foresters! They play an important role in reforestation with their habit of planning for the future by hiding nuts and tree seeds in hundreds of locations in the Fall to eat throughout the Winter. Called “scatter hoarding”, this pattern ensures that even if some of the buried food is found by other animals, enough will remain for the squirrel. Squirrels have an important ecological role, especially in forest ecosystems. They have a peculiar habit of taking seeds, which are their main source of nutrients, and burying them. Some seeds are never recovered and sprout, growing into trees.
Eastern Gray Squirrels mate in late winter. Several males compete for one female in a ritual chase at breakneck speeds up and down and through the trees, leaping from branch to branch. The female then selects the one she perceives as the strongest male, rarely mating with the same male again. This is nature’s way of preventing inbreeding and thus preserving the integrity of the species.