Why do squirrels shake their tails?
A squirrel’s tail is covered in fur with the exception of one section on the end, where it is completely bare.
When a squirrel sees or smells danger, it will start to shake its tail back and forth.
This action fluffs up the fur, making it look bigger and letting other animals know there is a problem.
When a predator attacks an animal with a big fluffed-up tail, it will be significantly less likely to attack again.
Why Squirrels Shake Their Tails
Shaking their tails also helps squirrels to communicate with other squirrels.
By shaking their tail in a certain way, they can signal different things such as whether they are afraid, angry, or happy.
This is one of the ways that squirrels can communicate without making any noise.
This is because squirrels have an excellent sense of smell and can detect predators from afar.
When squirrels shake their tails, they are communicating to other animals in the area that there is danger.
This has the effect of increasing the safety of all animals close by.
Shaking for Mating
This can be used to attract mates when it is performed with another animal with a fluffy tail (like opossums).
The squirrels will both shake their tails and the aroma released from the fluff will be attractive to both animals.
In some species, it is not uncommon for a squirrel’s fluffy tail to produce noise as well as scent.
This has the additional benefit of scaring off predators by startling them with a sudden noise.
In other species, this combined “odor and sound weapon” can be used to scare off predators without the need for physical impact.
Squirrels are not always successful at scaring away predators, however.
When they are caught by a predator there is very little that they can do to escape other than try to use their fluffy tail as camouflage or play dead.
So, next time you see a squirrel shaking its tail, remember that it is not just a cute gesture.
It is actually a very important survival tactic!
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