Squirrel shoots slinky at chipmunk stealing its dinner

There are many misguided people who denigrate squirrels, but having lived with them up here on the third floor for years, I know what awesome rodents they are.  Submitted for your approval: three videos in which squirrels pwn their opponents.

In this one, a squirrel appears to remove a chipmunk taking its food by slamming it with a stretched Slinky. Now that seems too weird to contemplate, but you tell me: did it do this–twice–on purpose?

Here a squirrel (don’t know the species) drives away a rattlesnake endangering its brood by throwing dirt in its face. There’s no doubt about its aims (and its aim), but is this instinctive or learned? Whichever, it’s cool. This is from a Facebook post, so click on the screenshot to go to the video:

Here’s another squirrel bothering a rattlesnake with the same tactic. It must be instinctive!

26 Comments

  1. Randy schenck
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Looks pretty squirrely but that is why they are called Squirrels.

  2. Brian Davis
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    “did it do this–twice–on purpose?”

    I believe it did it once. It’s just from two different camera angles. The video of the first angle shows the camera that is recording the second angle.

    • loren russell
      Posted September 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps. On the other hand, if this hadn’t been observed more than once, why was it being recorded at these angles?

      • Posted September 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Brian is right. I brought up two instances of the video on two browser windows, slowed them both to .25 speed, and synchronized the two different views so that it was clear that it was one event recorded by two cameras.

        It could be that the photographer set up those props and just hoped for something cute to happen that could be posted on YouTube. The squirrel may or may not have already learned how to use the slinky the way it did.

  3. busterggi
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I believe it.

  4. Colleen Milloy
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Squirrels are not only intelligent but they are amazing mothers. I used to volunteer at a wildlife rehab centre and we would tell people calling about squirrels in their attics, DO NOT SHUT THE MOTHER SQUIRREL OUT! She will tear your house apart to get back to her babies. Personally I love squirrels and chipmunks. So much fun to have in the garden.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    That squirrel’s in deep doo once Alvin, Theodore, and Simon hit up Dave Seville for Slinkies of their own. I see an escalating Rodentia arms race in the making here.

    • BJ
      Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      You better bet the Rescue Rangers will get there long before AT&S are done singing their first tune. Chip and Dale are chipmunks OF ACTION.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        At least “Mac” and “Tosh,” the Goofy Gophers, are much to polite (being British and all) to resort to such barbarity.

  6. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    It must be instinctive!

    I’m not so sure. If we set up a second slinky experiment in a different backyard and find that a second squirrel engages in slinky-snapping behavior in defense of its meal, our conclusion would not be that slinky-snapping is instinctive, but that squirrels are capable of learning complex behaviors by trial and error using materials at hand.

    The same conclusion could just as well apply to the dirt-throwing behavior.

  7. Pat glannery
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    The dirt throwing appears instinctive. I think the one with the slinky was trying to run away with it and got lucky.

    I always wondered why our cat never brought home dead squirrels when she had no problem with chipmunks, birds, rabbits or mice. Then I found out why. An old mother squirrel was at our bird feeder and Lizzy started stalking her. The cat was in plain view and I know the squirrel saw her but she actually turned her back and continued feeding, completely unconcerned. When Lizzy charged, she simply wheeled around and stood her ground, chittering fiercely! Of course cats want a surprise attack, not a stand-up fight, so Lizzy screeched to a stop and crouched in confusion. The squirrel went back to gathering seeds and Lizzy had to do the cat thing of pretending nothing had happened and she didn’t want to chase that squirrel anyway.

    • busterggi
      Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      My cats have pretty much wiped out the mice, shrews, chipmunks and wood rats around the house but squirrels? Nope, they just give one another a wink and ignore each other.

    • BJ
      Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      My first cat brought home several squirrels, but he was a ruthless hunter. Sweetest cat that ever lives when it came to humans, though.

      Alas, he was also responsible for the Great Chipmunk Genocide of 1998. Shades of gray…

    • barn owl
      Posted September 29, 2017 at 5:33 am | Permalink

      Barn Cat Tabby is known for killing rock squirrels and leaving the tails draped across saddles in the tack room. The local rock squirrels tend to have very dark-colored coats, so you can tell that the tails are not those of fox squirrels.

      http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/spervari.htm

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 29, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      I remember watching our cat pounce on a nice fluffy and edible part of the Rabbit Population Explosion … and in turn be pounced on by Grizzled Old Doe. Doe got a good grip on cat’s shoulder – near the carrying nape, and then proceeded to demonstrate tunnel-digging technique using he hind legs and the cat’s belly.
      It didn’t stop Jackie (the cat) from hunting the little fluffy lapin-snax, but she was a damned sight more careful afterwards, particularly when the Doe was in sight.

      I suspect your cat had had a similarly educational experience in the past, and Sqrl knew about it.

  8. Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    The squirrel snake thing: I understand in the first video that the mom was protecting babies. But why, in the 2nd video, didn’t the squirrel just turn and leave? It put itself in jeopardy when escape was clearly possible.

  9. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Mammals rule!

  10. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    It appears to me there is something smeared on the tops of the slinkys. Probably peanut butter. If so they are simply trying to take the slinky, and losing their grip when the slinky is stretched too far.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted September 29, 2017 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      Not only that, but the trick only works because one end of the slinky is anchored to the ground. Did the squirrel really work out how to do that?

  11. Posted September 28, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  12. DrBrydon
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    No. My. God.

  13. Susan D.
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    When the planet finally decides it’s had enough of us and sends us extinct, the squirrels will take over…

  14. Rich
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    You might like squirrels less if they chewed their way through the eaves of your house and went on to destroyed the attic and heating system. They can even chew through metal flashing if they feel like it, so it’s about impossible to keep them out if they’re determined.

    Personally, I’d prefer to admire them and watch them play, but I’m perfectly happy to eat the ones that get too familiar with my house. After all, they aren’t only pretty, but absolutely delicious.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted September 28, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Jerry, this is the downside of having 50,000 subscribers.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        *snort-chuckle*

  15. Hempenstein
    Posted September 29, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Squirrels seem to be able to live in anything, too. My first house had a resident squirrel in the attic – it had chewed a hole in the fascia to get in and was living in a heap of loose fiberglass insulation.

    But it didn’t seem to be causing any other problems so we figured if it could live in that, then mazel tov. A few yrs later when we put an addition on, we found a matted mass of fiberglass that contained a mummified squirrel at its center.


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