Why Do Squirrels Twitch So Much?

Jasmine Okechukwu
Why Do Squirrels Twitch So Much?

You have watched squirrels in your backyard and noticed that squirrels twitch so much, and now you are wondering why.

Squirrels are very popular for scurrying around on trees and fences, they are very playful animals. They are also known to savage plants and trees for food. It’s pretty much captivating to watch them go about their usual life. 

While watching them you must have observed them making twitching movements and this makes you wonder “why do squirrels twitch so much?”

It is natural for squirrels to twitch a lot, it is a survival instinct that they adopt against predators. Twitching is a means of communicating to others that there is a potential threat lurking around. Another reason why squirrels may twitch is to express their intentions to mate with a particular female. 

Twitching is relatively a significant way of life for squirrels. Being prey to almost every larger animal, squirrels have sharp hearing abilities that help them hear danger even from afar. In this article, you are sure to understand the various reasons why squirrels twitch so much, so let’s get into it. 

Reasons Why Squirrels Twitch So Much

Being prey to a lot of animals can be terrifying, I can’t imagine the anxiety squirrels go through every day of their lives. Squirrels are down the food chain and this means snakes, birds, cats, and even dogs are all a threat to them.

The following are the reasons why squirrels twitch a lot;

Image: Peter Trimming / Wikimedia Commons

1. To Send A Warning To Others

When an individual squirrel spots danger it begins to twitch to alert the others of what is about to happen. Squirrels have aerial and ground enemies and they all have to work together sometimes to avoid being eaten. 

Flying predators like hawks and owls are a big threat to squirrels because they can hardly hide from them. Squirrels wouldn’t make any movement when they sight these birds as it may be implicating rather they would make low chattering sounds to warn the others. 

But for ground predators such as cats, dogs, and coyotes, squirrels will move their tails in a twitchy manner to communicate among themselves as ground predators can close to nothing while squirrels are high up in the tree. Sometimes they twitch so that others can be aware of where they are situated.

2. To Mark Their Territory 

Every animal is territorial, and squirrels are not left out. Though not all species of squirrels are territorial, the Red squirrels and Douglas squirrels prefer to protect their territory, they will twitch their tails to any potential rival thereby warning the other to keep off. 

3. To Lure The Female Squirrel During Mating Seasons

Mating seasons are the best time to observe squirrels, as there is a lot of luring and chasing that is done by the male squirrel. The male squirrel lures the opposite gender by twitching its tail almost like it is dancing, this is a way to let its intention known to the female. When the female comes closer that is when the chase begins. 

4. They Are Frustrated

You can tell a person is frustrated with some certain body language but for squirrels, frustration is expressed when it starts twitching its tail. They twitch their tails fervently as a sign of frustration. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why do Grey squirrels twitch their tails?

Grey squirrels twitch their tails to communicate to others especially when they sense danger and sight a threat. They also do so to confuse the predators and also let them know that they are aware of the danger. 

Why are squirrels so jerky?

Squirrels make jerky movements when they are suspicious. Their jerky movements might confuse any predator close by, this is a defense mechanism adopted by squirrels to survive in an environment full of predators. 

How do I calm a squirrel down? 

Usually, squirrels are social animals, you are their best friend if you have treats to share with them. For a squirrel to show aggression it feels threatened by your presence. It is best to leave its territory or give it treats as a peace offering 

Why does a squirrel wag its tail rapidly? 

Dogs wag their tails out of excitement, but in the case of squirrels, it could mean they are frustrated or pissed. It is also a signal to other squirrels to stay off their territory. Another valid reason a squirrel will shake its tail rapidly is to alert others of danger. 

Final Thoughts

Squirrels are defenseless animals which makes them an easy target to predators like snakes, cats, coyotes, owls, and hawks. The twitchy movement of these squirrels is a way to alert others of a close threat. 

It is also a way to show dominance over a particular space and a seduction move to attract the opposite gender for mating. 

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