What Does a Squirrel Waving His Tail Mean?
You might be wondering, “What does a squirrel waving his tail mean?” The best way to answer this question is by considering the different types of signals that these creatures make with their tails. These signals range from mating rituals to warning us to stay away. Often, they are done as a way to defend territory, food reserves, and nests. In this article, we will discuss what each one of these signals means.
The use of tail flags by squirrels may not be limited to communication. In fact, it may have evolved to serve as an outlet for frustration. Other uses of tail flags include general aggression, indicating a predator attack, territory invasion, or even Justin Bieber’s arrival! Whatever the reason for the tail flag, it is definitely a fascinating sight. Read on to discover the reasons behind squirrels’ unusual tail flags and learn how you can use them to communicate with other animals.
The tail-waving signal used by squirrels has many different applications. Not only does it represent a warning, but it can also act as a predator-deterrent signal. If a predator notices that a squirrel is signalling, he will usually abandon it. The same applies to signal advertising. In the same way, if a squirrel is trying to communicate with his owner, he might wave his tail to let him know he needs some food.
The mating ritual of a squirrel involves repeated dancing, chasing, and other physical activity. The successful male will protect his female companion from other males and disrupt the other squirrel’s mating ritual. The winning male will also rattle his tail to scare away an intruder. This mating ritual can last from one minute to twenty-five minutes. The winning male will then protect his female companion by chasing the other male away.
Squirrels often engage in mating rituals when they first meet. During this time, they begin collecting food and making homes for the winter. The female begins to collect nuts from the surrounding areas, preparing them for birth. These nuts will be stored for the winter. A squirrel’s tail flick also acts as a warning signal. A squirrel’s tail is far more sensitive than ours is, so any sudden movement can cause him to become alarmed.
The hierarchical nature of the behavior of a squirrel waving his tail has been studied for several years, and scientists have found that tail position influences aggression in a significant way. Specifically, the tail position of the dominant male predicts the level of aggression in its territory, indicating that his tail signals aggression to his female competitors. The dominant male will often find the female first and engage in a mating chase in the territory.
The same behaviour is employed by dominant squirrels. They hold their tail low to the ground, signaling to other squirrels that they are approachable. The tail’s position also serves as a warning to other squirrels of imminent danger. The researcher, Carol Coogan, laid a makeshift camera trap for a gray squirrel in his backyard and recorded the movement of its tail. This study was published in the journal Behavior.
The ‘parasol’-like tail of a squirrel plays a vital thermoregulatory role in the body temperature of this small mammal. It acts as a shade during intense heat and a blanket during cold weather. The tail has an extensive network of blood vessels that form a counter-current heat exchange system (CCHES). These vessels have a large surface area to volume ratio, which means that they lose heat rapidly. In hot weather, the CCHES bypasses the body and warm blood flows to the tail. Warm blood is then pumped into the tail to heat up the tail, and radiates body heat back into the environment.
This body temperature rise is a way for a squirrel to deter rattlesnakes from attacking him. The heated tail is also an attempt to make the animal larger and more intimidating to snakes. A squirrel waving his tail can also increase its visibility and thus ward off snakes. However, there are some caveats to the body temperature increase of a squirrel. It is possible that the ‘thermoregulatory effect’ only occurs when a squirrel waving his tail is in danger of being bitten.
Squirrels communicate by waving their tails, and there are a variety of reasons why they do so. They use their tail to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. They also use their tails for balance and to leap. The wagging tail of a squirrel conveys a message to its companion. Read on to learn the many reasons why squirrels use their tails as a communication tool.
Using vocal and visual alarms, squirrels can more accurately predict danger. If they tried to guess by simply hearing and seeing a threat, they would be wrong about half the time. Using tail flags and moans reduces the error rate by 17% or 20%, respectively. Furthermore, both visual and auditory alarms are used in tandem, reinforcing each other’s signals and reducing the chances of spotting a predator.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.