Although the gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinenesis) that I’m feeding have failed to nest on my windowsill, they regularly visit me, and I leave them a buffet of peanuts and sunflower seeds several times per day. There are two animals, I believe of opposite sex.
Their behavior is invariant in some ways. They always take the peanuts first, usually running away with them, almost certainly to hide or bury them. Then they return and eat the sunflower seeds on the spot, at a rate of about 3 seconds/seed. Occasionally, as in the picture below (taken this morning), they’ll eat a peanut on the spot, but they always discard the red, papery coating around the nut.
This one is a female, as you can tell by her swollen teats. I’m a bit worried about her apparent loss of fur, and hope it isn’t something like mange.
They have learned two new behaviors. The first is to take more than one peanut in their mouth at a time when absconding with them. After seeing them learn how to hold two nuts, I’ve observed them putting three in their little mouths, though that’s hard to do. They don’t have cheek pouches.
Too, the female has learned to scratch on the windowsill of my office to get food. I don’t feed them on my office windowsill, since I can’t open the window, but leave the food on the windowsill in the lab. Nevertheless, the female will, several times a day, lie on her belly on my office windowsill and scratch vigorously at my screen, making an ungodly racket. (It took me a while to discover what the noise was.) She has learned to do this only on the single windowsill by my desk, as she used to scratch at the other two windows in my office.
When she does this, I walk into the lab and put out more peanuts and sunflower seeds. Often she scampers there to meet me, even though it’s only a ten-second walk.
Don’t underestimate the intelligence of rodents, particularly ones that are hungry!