You are here:

Wild Animals/Squirrel behavior in D.C. Area.

Advertisement


Question
Hello,

We had a neighborhood squirrel here for I don't know how many years.  It was a very distinct squirrel, with certain markings and such.  Our area is prime real estate with big, sweet oaks.  Well, earlier this spring/summer I noticed new squirrels had come to our part of the neighborhood.  I noticed a few squabbles between the resident squirrel and these new ones.  One day I was watching outside and saw that the resident squirrel was being chased from the area by a gang of five or more squirrels.  They were being very fierce with the squirrel.  Ever since then I haven't seen the squirrel again, and there are a lot more squirrels living here now.  Have you ever seen this gang behavior before?  Do you think they performed a coup?

Answer
Dear J.

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

David Dietle (http://www.cracked.com/article_19126_5-adorable-animals-that-are-turning-to-dark) and http://ogremk5.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/out-of-control-gangs-of-squirrels/say that gangs of squirrels may attack people.

http://www.about-squirrels.com/red-squirrels.html says that some squirrels are territorial and can defend their territory against other species of squirrels. Squirrels can be aggressive towards other squirrels, especially in the mating season. Ryan O'Connell (http://giddyupamerica.com/2012/09/22/the-curious-case-of-the-dead-squirrel/) speculated about whether a gang of squirrels killed another squirrel.

When the grey squirrel was introduced to Britain, the numbers of native red squirrels fell. There have been Attempts to reintroduce red squirrels into parks occupied by grey squirrels, but these have been unsuccessful (see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/05/red-grey-squirrels-cornwall). Similarly, a black variety of grey squirrel is stronger than the grey variety (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/10886477/The-rise-and-rise-of-the-blac) and may attack dogs (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4489792.stm).   

This information indicates that gangs of squirrels may threaten other species of squirrels and prevent them returning to the area. This is probably what happened with the distinctive squirrel that you no longer see locally. John Kelly and Robert Lishak have written a question and answer column (http://live.washingtonpost.com/dc-squirrel-week-2012-how-to-talk-squirrel-120410) about squirrels in Washington.  

I hope this helps

All the best

Jonathan

Wild Animals

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.