The unbearable cleverness of squirrels

I guess I’ve got squirrels on the brain today, probably because they’re eating like gluttons, probably putting on fat for the winter.

Matthew sent me this video showing the ingenuity of our favorite rodent.  As he said, “From a BBC programme in 1991. My kids had this on video and used to chortle with delight at it”


  1. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    They really are impressive athletes….


  2. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Amazing! Loved it, thanks. 😀

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I need a squirrel I could get to steal my chocolate bars like that! I’d be like a benign Fagin.

    • bric
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      Don’t you keep them in the fridge? That’s hard even for a squirrel

      • bric
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        Oh yes I remember you live in Canada. Not really necessary then.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        The squirrel stole the chocolate bars from a vending machine.

  4. Lamar Hankins
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    They are indeed clever and athletic, as well as persistent. After we bought the absolutely squirrel-proof bird feeder that has a battery-operated twirling perch that throws off any creature too heavy, the squirrels never gave up trying to get to the bird seed and we enjoyed watching them be twirled off over and over again. There are also ones with collapsing perches, but they are not as entertaining, though they are just as effective. Droll Yankees is the manufacturer of the feeders.

  5. rainbowwarriorlizzie
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink


  6. ratabago
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    That was a nice nostalgia binge. We also have this on video tape. But we don’t have a player any more. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.

    It always made my partner a little home sick. She grew up in Canada, and squirrels are one of the things she misses when she thinks about it. Squirrels, friends, snow, “fall” colours (our Aussie trees are civilised and don’t drop their leaves, they drop their bark instead), water, and it not being 40 degrees C at Christmas.

    • ratabago
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Rats, or rodents of some sort.

      Forgot to sub

  7. BilBy
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I have watched squirrels outside a campus cafe in Florida sitting by the bins and waiting for people to throw things in: coffee cups they ignore, plastic wrappers they ignore – but once a paper bag goes in (that might contain a sandwich crust or similar) they hop up, disappear through the push-down flap like a trapdoor has opened up, grab the bag and pop back out before the flap has completely shut. Never saw one get trapped, never saw one waste time on litter they seemed to learn was not associated with squirrel-suitable food. Very cool little beasts.

  8. Diane G.
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    One day here a squirrel somehow managed to get its foot caught between the two branches of my double shepherd’s hook bird feeder. I think I was about as traumatized as s/he was.

    I finally hit upon using a broomstick to force the two crooks further apart. As soon as I relieved the pressure holding his/her for, s/he immediately ran on top of the broomstick to my arm, up my arm across my shoulders and down the other side.

    If it hadn’t been as quick as it was (basically instantaneous), you might still be scraping me off the porch roof.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      “for” = “foot”

  9. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    We had a squirrel in the back garden a couple of weekends ago – not as common in Britain as it is in TransPondia – and I thought briefly about encouraging the things with a bird-proof squirrel feeder (give the crows a challenge!). then I realised it was a grey, and I’m wondering if there’s anything practical I can do to encourage Reds but not Greys?
    Watching the squirrel-up-a-pipe shot, I’m reminded of a gamekeeper of my youthful acquaintance who, between mustard gassy wheezes on his Woodbine, would opine that both stoats and weasels were perfectly good for cleaning your shotgun, “But you gotta gut the weasel first.”

  10. Christopher
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    “From a BBC programme in 1991. My kids had this on video and used to chortle with delight at it”

    – My late Grandfather had this on video too, I remember watching it with him in around 1991/92. Brought back a lot of memories!

  11. JBlilie
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Squirrels are smart. I used to have a bird feeder in my back yard that was held up by a nylon cord and which the squirrels really wanted to get at.

    The squirrels figured out that they could chew the cord at a very remote spot from the feeder dropping it to the ground thereby scoring all the noms. (This was after many other schemes I tried to make the feeder jump proof for squirrels whether from the ground or trees.)

    It seems clear to me that they understood that the cord suspended the feeder and cutting it would cause the feeder to fall. The place they chewed through was a long way from the feeder. The cord went over a branch from the feeder and then over to a tree trunk where it was tied off. They may have observed me untying and lowering the feeder for filling.

    I eventually replaced the cord with a 1/16-inch steel cable. That finally did the trick.

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