Science sneaks up on squirrels: a reenactment

Scicurious (alias: Bethany Brookshire, alias: Squirrel Terrorist) reenacts a scientific paper’s methodology about squirrels’ ability to detect predators, as her Act of Whimsy (read: forfeit) for Geek Girl Con fundraising.

Remember, if we get to $5000, I’ll be playing Battletoads, beginning to end, with infinite lives, on Surely you’ll want to see me get progressively more and more frustrated as I replay sections of the game over, and over, and over again. Donate now to punish me!

(We totally did not coordinate the silent movie thing in advance, I swear.)

Science sneaks up on squirrels: a reenactment

4 thoughts on “Science sneaks up on squirrels: a reenactment

  1. 2

    Wait wait! *I did this* — chasing squirrels for science — for a freshman paper in biology back in 1995!

    I wonder if the paper she’s referencing got the same results as mine? Maybe it was using a different sort of squirrel-chasing.

    * Grey squirrels maintain a 5-foot distance from a stalker
    * If you corner them, they dash for the nearest tree

    Tested by about 14 days of squirrel-stalking on the campus of Carleton College, Northfield, MN. Plus a lot of use of measuring tape and landmarks. o figure out how far away the squirrels had been

  2. 3

    I seeee, it was testing a different hypothesis in a different environment.

    I was on a college campus where people walk across the grass routinely and pretty much ignore sidewalk locations. I was interested in generic squirrel aversion to human contact in a human-dominated environment.

    The squirrels very consistently maintained a 5 foot distance from any humans (if I remember correctly, I may have to look up the paper to see what the actual distance was, but I know it was a constant distance). If you got a bit closer, they would just get a bit further away. You could stalk the squirrels indefinitely this way; they would actually sort of circle around you (moving a little bit to the left each time you advanced, or sometimes the right), and if you kept stalking the squirrel, eventually you’d find that you’d made a giant circle.

    If you ran at them, of course, they’d run… but only until they were about 10 feet away and then they’d stop, and you could resume stalking.

    If they were cornered, however, they’d dash for the nearest tree and run up its back side.

    It was very interesting. And very consistent.

  3. 4

    Please do attempt replication of this study, as it is deeply important to know how cautious squirrels are. 🙂 Credit Nerode, Nathanael (1994, unpublished). It was Fall 1994, now that I recheck the dates. 🙂

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