Squirrel behaviour is influenced by the fact that squirrels are prey animals that have to be on constant alert against predators. That is the reason for a lot of their quick, twitchy movements; they are reacting to possible threats in their environment and assessing the danger. One common movement from squirrels is a tail twitch, which is actually a form of communication.
Why Do Squirrels Shake Their Tails?
There are many animal species that go through certain “rituals” to try to attract mates. Male squirrels attempt to get the attention of female squirrels by shaking and shivering their tails. The tail-shaking indicates interest, and then the male squirrel starts moving slowly toward the female. The male squirrel alternates between tail shaking and slowly approaching until the female squirrel indicates whether or not she is interested. If you see a squirrel shaking its tail during mating season, and there does not seem to be another reason for it, this could be an explanation. Squirrel mating season runs from December to February and June through August.
Squirrels also shake their tails when they see a predator. There are several reasons for this. Some predators, such as snakes, use heat-sensing capabilities to find prey. Twitching its tail shunts heat away from the squirrel’s body, making it more difficult to detect. Flicking the tail also serves as a warning to the predator that the squirrel sees it and is willing to take whatever defensive means necessary to protect itself. It also serves as a signal to other squirrels that there is danger in the area. If a squirrel has food in its mouth while it is shaking its tail, it may be warning other squirrels not to try to steal the food.
The circumstances give you a clue as to why the squirrel is shaking its tail. If it is twitching its tail while looking at you, it means that it sees you as a threat and is warning you away. Ignoring this warning offers little benefit and some potential risks.
Why Should You Keep Your Distance From Squirrels?
Squirrels may be cute and small, but they are not as harmless as they look. A squirrel will usually run away at the approach of a human, but if it cannot find an escape route, it may bite or scratch in self-defence. Squirrels are rodents, which means that they have very strong, sharp front teeth. A bite from a squirrel could cause pain and, if it breaks the skin, bleeding.
Furthermore, bites or scratches from a squirrel could expose you to diseases. The good news is that it is rare for squirrels to carry and spread rabies. The bad news is that squirrels could transmit pathogens that cause other diseases through their saliva and residual urine or feces on their claws if they scratch you:
- Tularemia: Causes fever, skin ulcers, and lymph gland inflammation
- Salmonellosis: Causes gastrointestinal symptoms and can lead to dehydration
- Leptospirosis: Causes fever, vomiting, headache, and rashes
These are bacterial infections that can be treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, they can have severe complications.
What Should You Do About Squirrels in Your Home?
It’s fairly easy to avoid squirrels outside, but when they get into your home, the situation becomes trickier. Squirrels can cause extensive damage if allowed to live in your attic, but removing them yourself could expose you to injury or illness.
Professional squirrel removal in Oshawa from Skedaddle is the answer. Our technicians are trained to remove the squirrels safely, without harming them or exposing you to any health risks. We clean up where the squirrels have been and prevent them from getting back inside. Learn more about the wildlife removal services we offer in your area.