Aahhh USF, the University of Squirrel-Feeding, revisited:
Today I brought a small bag of shell-less walnuts and decided to do a bit of an experiment. I walked over to some areas where about 3 to 5 squirrels are seen gathering in the afternoon, and I held out a piece of walnut while approaching one of them slowly and bending down to its level to peak its curiosity. Had some success with at least two of them--as soon as they approached me to grab the nut between my fingers and eat it peacefully either a few steps away or back at their tree to eat while hanging, they would learn pretty quick and come with a bit more eagerness to grab another until they no longer wanted anymore.
It was fun watching their different methods for grabbing the food. The spy-like squirrel would "strategize" a way to approach the nut, usually zig-zagging to sneak up to the nut, and use its tiny claws to assist in grabbing it (prickling my fingers in the process with some notable sharpness but not in a really hurtful way). Sometimes he would softly nibble at my fingers like a harmless hamster while trying to fish for the nut eagerly. Spy Squirrel.
The more docile squirrel would gently grab the nut with its palms and use its mouth to assist, then take a few bites with its back turned, then hop away for a bit to finish the rest by a tree. Then when it was finished, it would watch me eagerly and just hop a straight line to gently grab another. That one seemed calm and had a pretty fair amount of trust. Neither of them were willing to be petted though, but they still trusted me enough to keep coming back for more nuts. Gentle Squirrel.
One other squirrel--a more cautious squirrel that was clearly male--would continuously attempt to approach the walnut but would last minute dash back to his tree as if really unsure. After a while of watching the squirrel approach and dodge, I carefully placed the nut on the ground and stepped back a bit. Then he would carefully approach the nut and finally take it. That squirrel probably didn't like taking risks and was not as trusting of humans as the others. Cautious Squirrel.
The other two squirrels I saw were too busy watching from their trees to come down and take a chance, instead allowing Spy Squirrel and Gentle Squirrel to grab seconds. Sometimes one of them would attempt to give it a shot but then be chased away by Spy Squirrel, allowing him to take it instead. Also, one student walked by and smiled as I fed a nut to Gentle Squirrel.
Two assertive squirrels out of a group of five. Not bad.
Also noticed that usually in places where a squirrel is all alone--the squirrel is less likely to want to have anything to do with humans. When finding at least two squirrels in one area, however, sometimes at least one of them will be courageous enough to approach and take the nut while the other would be too shy or unsuccessful. The "braver" squirrel tends to be the more dominant one in the group--the one that other squirrels tend to run away from.
Yeah, it was a fun and interesting experience studying the behavior of squirrels and feeding them walnuts from my fingers. Perhaps I'll try again another time when there are more of them around on campus.
Taking a break to clear my head. Hopefully I'll figure out the rest of PoF Chapter One in due time, but for now I'm taking it easy.
God bless and thanks for reading!
~ Jazzy C. Oaks