What's up with this squirrel?

This afternoon was real nice and they had some peanuts on sale. So I bought a bunch and decided to feed the squirrels in the park.

I’ve done this before and never seen this behaviour before. I took out my bag and the squirrels were shy except for one who kind of walked over and held out his hand (not really but you get the idea)

So I gave him one he ate it. I looked for some other squirrels to feed. Then he walked up again so I gave him another one. Then another squirrel came over and I gave him one. Then the first squirrel dropped his peanut and chased the other squirrel away. So I gave this aggressive squirrel another peanut and went to a third squirrel and the first squirrel again dropped his peanut chased away the third squirrel, in the process causing him to drop his peanut.

To make a long story short (too late I know) he kept doing this. So I gave this aggressive guy like 20 peanuts to keep him occupied but he kept following me and chasing the other squirrels away. It was like he didn’t want them to have the peanuts but he didn’t want them either. I finally had to chase him up a tree to allow the other guys to get their fair share of peanuts.

What is this behaviour? Territorial?
He only ate one peanut that I could tell. What makes that guy so aggressive?

My dad feeds peanuts to the squirrels outside his house all the time. He nicknamed one “Meany” because it keeps chasing the other squirrels away from the food.

Peanuts aren’t really suitable for stashing away, but what you are seeing is probably a manifestation of normal behaviour that would occur with foods that are suitable; the squirrel will eat its fill and try to store the surplus in holes in the ground for later use through the winter.
In order to do this, the squirrel must procure more nuts than it immediately requires and this means keeping competitors out of the picture.

BTW Peanuts can kill squirrels because of some protein or other that the squirrel’s digestive system cannot cope with.

:confused: Cite?

I heard that it can cause you head to become, well, nut shaped.

Here. - Raw peanuts contain a Trypsin inhibitor, roasting them reduces this somewhat.

That cite makes it sound like you’d have to force-feed them nothing but raw peanuts for it to be a problem, but general information from my other searches appears to indicate that this may not be the case; winter survival for a squirrel can be quite a close-run thing; anything that interferes with the squirrel’s ability to lay down energy reserves in the autumn, ultimately reduces its chances of surviving a hard winter.

Thanks for the link Mangetout. I don’t really think it’ll be much of a problem though because most store bought peanuts are roasted anyway. In fact raw peanuts are actually hard to come by. But varying their diet is a good idea and I’ll add some filberts and other nuts when I feed them from now on.

Maybe he didnt like the peanut you gave him after he tasted it & then you gave him another but he didn’t know what it was so he got it, tasted like the peanut he didn’t want so he dropped that. The wild thing probably kept hoping you would give something better.

The behavior is easy to explain:

Through the use of operant condition, both positive and negative, the squirrel trained Markxxx to hand over all his peanuts to it (the squirrel) alone.

Seriously, feeding wild animals is never, never a good thing (unless you’re a professional saving a certian population of animals in extraordinary situations). This includes squirrels in the park, ducks on the water, seagulls at the beach, bears at the campground, monkeys at the zoo, giraffes at the drive-thru safari park, the pan of milk for the stray kitty, or even bird feeders in your back yard.

Feeding wild animals leads to:[list=1][li]‘Training’ the animals to be aggressive beggars.[/li][li]Removing the animals’ natural fear of humans.[/li][li]Altering normal migratory patterns.[/li][li]Creating an unnatural increase in population, throwing the local ecosystem out of whack.[/li][li]Killing the animals slowly through poisoning them with foods that are either bad for them (they can’t digest it) or lacking in the nutrients they need.[/li][/list=1] #1 & #2 leads to unpleasant encounters with animals as they bite you during feeding or attack children (or try to invade your house).

#3 & #4 creates an unnatural dependence on you (or the steady stream of park/beach visitors) for their food. When humans don’t show up anymore (e.g., severe cold), the animals starve.

Never feed wild animals. Ever. Don’t even allow them the ability to get into your trash.


But you can feed me, I don’t bite, at least, not in the dining room.

What a point. I was can’t believe here I sit with my 155 IQ and was taken in by a squirrel. So much for evolution eh?

But they’re SOOO cute. Of course you HAVE to feed them. Especially if the peanuts are on sale. I know the SD did a column on this but the search engine is too slow to pull it out.

I googled around and for each cite that says peanut (raw or otherwise) are bad you find a cite that says no they aren’t.

I found one website that said peanuts are fine to feed squirrels so long as they aren’t salted as you will give them high blood pressure.

I was wondering more so, than the food was the behaviour. Why did the squirrel ONLY seem to be interested in keeping the other squirrels away. He wasn’t eating those peanuts. He wasn’t burying them. After I chased him up a tree some of the other squirrels did bury their peanuts.

Like I said; it could be that the surplus of food triggered the instinct to drive away competition, but the food was of the wrong type to trigger the instinct to bury it; poor little tufty isn’t intellectual enough to understand his own drives and think"hey, I’m not going to bury this, so I might as well share it with the boys".

Well I only have an IQ of 88 but I’ve seen many a hummingbird chase away others despite the fact that there’s plenty of feeders for all. I just presumed it was instinctual behavior by wild animals that have evolved in the face of scarce resources.