A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

Dodging Fox Squirrels

Don’t get us wrong. We love fox squirrels. They’re huge, they’re gorgeous, and with their scattered caching behavior, they plant all sorts of trees (and who doesn’t like someone who spends that much time planting trees?)

But we do have to ask a pertinent question. Is something wrong with their brains?

The problem arises when we’re driving out in the country. Invariably, we see squirrels in the road. The grey squirrels are always wary — as soon as they see or hear our car, they shoot off the road and scamper up a tree. But the fox squirrels are different. Often they’ll ignore us completely, so that we have to honk our horn or lean out the window and bark like a dog to get them to move far enough off the road so that we can get by. Others are only slightly more wary, and will move onto the gravel to watch us go by. Maybe they like the feel of the car’s draft — sort of a ‘wind through the hair’ thing.

In the rare event that one panics, it almost never runs straight off the road. It will start in one direction, then change course, then change course again, and often as not finally stop mid-road and stare. It’s gotten to the point that when we’re driving along and see one on the side of the road, we slow almost to a stop, because we’ve had too many instances when they just dart right out in front of the car.

We’ve managed to avoid hitting one, but only by always paying strict attention when we’re driving in the country — especially along routes where we know they’re abundant. But other drivers don’t take as much care, and we see an awful lot of fox squirrels that have met their end between car tire and road.

Has anyone observed this behavior elsewhere? Or is this just a phenomenon of Wisconsin fox squirrels? Maybe there’s something in our acorns?

2 Responses to “Dodging Fox Squirrels”

  1. Your fox squirrels look like the squirrels we have here in the Midwest. I live in a large city and I very rarely see a dead squirrel in the road. Interesting post and I’m going to research fox squirrels.

  2. nhnursery — It’s always interesting to compare the attitudes of members of the same species who live in the country vs. the city. Crows, for instance, seem quite tame when we’re in town, but won’t let you get within twenty yards out here in the country. Perhaps the ‘city’ fox squirrels are more savvy of vehicular dangers?

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