We independently select products & services. If you click the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

How Do Squirrels Communicate With Their Tails? Animal Behavior Explained

As an expert on squirrels, I know that tail flicking is one of their most important communication tools. It’s how they alert other animals—and even other squirrels—of potential threats. In this blog post, I’ll explain why do squirrels flick their tails and how does this behavior aid in their survival.

Squirrels flick their tails for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it’s a way of communicating danger or potential threats to other squirrels and animals. Flickering their tails can alert the predator that they have been spotted, prompting them to flee in the opposite direction. Additionally, flicking their tails releases heat from their bodies, which is an effective tactic against heat-sensing snakes.

If You Like Squirrels, You Will LOVE those:

Why Do Squirrels Flick Their Tails?

Squirrels flick their tails to communicate different messages and signals, primarily those of danger. A flicker of the tail is a way of warning birds and other animals that a potential threat is nearby. In some cases, these tail movements can also signify mating behaviours, and squirrels may use them to gain attention of the opposite sex.

A squirrel’s tail isn’t just for good looks – it can be quite the tell-tale sign of impending danger. From a flicked tail to a wagged one, this furry creature has intuitively developed ways to announce that predators are near or that there is an invasion in its personal territory. Tail movements act as a safeguard for these small critters, alerting potential enemies before they can catch them unawares and letting competitors know to stay away from food sources.

Communication and Signaling Between Squirrels

During mating season, male squirrels use their tails to make a move on potential partners. As he catches sight of a female, he may approach her in a coy manner, shuffling closer and further away while performing a captivating display with his tail. This could involve waving it around or rapidly shaking it, in the hopes of catching her eye and piquing her interest.

By wagging their tails during courtship rituals, male squirrels can accelerate the process of finding a mate. If the female likes what she sees, this will encourage her to accept the offer and start mating with him.

Warning Birds and Other Animals of Potential Danger

Flickering their tails can serve as an alarm call for other animals who may not be aware that danger is lurking nearby. By changing the position of its body, a squirrel can signal potential threats such as cats, ferrets or foxes by giving them the impression that it may be ready to flee at any moment.

In addition to alerting animals around them of possible danger, some experts believe that tail flicks could also help lower stress levels while defending territories against rivals. This occurs due to hormones such as cortisol which are released when exposed to stressful situations – so much so that they start flicking their tales while they wait for new visitors.

Using Tail Flicks as Mating Signals and Behavior

In addition to flicking their tails when feeling threatened or scared, these creatures often use them for courting behaviours during mating season. They’ll wag their tails slowly up-and-down or side-to-side when trying to lure a female into mating with them. When males move away from females after displaying these behaviors, they tend to rock back and forth if she responds positively.

Generally speaking, one should take caution when observing wild squirrels as they alert one another when predators approach by using tail movement signals. As experts explain, each typeof movement has its own purpose depending on whether it’s being used as an alarm sign or mating behaviour.

Boosting Balance and Agility for Quick Climbing

When a squirrel is scaling heights, it will often whip its tail from side to side. This serves the purpose of keeping balance and providing forward motion so as to avoid any nasty drops or tumbles. In addition, it’s believed that flicking the tail might be an instinctive communication signal for other squirrels.

Thermoregulation – Keeping Warm or Cool

Tails of squirrels provide an extra layer of defense against possible threats in the wild, in addition to helping them regulate their body temperatures on hot days.

Cortisol Responses & Expressions of Frustration

Squirrels communicate with their tails in many ways, from expressing emotions to staying warm or cool. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is released in response to frustration or fear and may be communicated by tail wagging movements. Such displays are meant as a warning which can be observed as a single wag or a rapid flicking accompanied by threatening body language.

Brief Overview of Fun Squirrel Facts and Misconceptions

Squirrels are fascinating creatures that have adapted over time to be able to survive in a variety of environments. They communicate through tail wagging as a warning sign and to express hunger or thirst. They can swim, form complex social structures, and many studies suggest they have strong memories and critical thinking skills. Misconceptions about squirrels include that they store food all year round, which is not true, and that they hoard large amounts of nuts and acorns which is also untrue.


Do squirrels display a sign of happiness with their tails?

Squirrels communicate their contentment and joy with a wagging tail. When they’re feeling sprightly, they’ll flaunt their emotions by twitching or shaking their tails. Additionally, when excited, squirrels may even stand on their hind feet and wave their tails above them.

What reaction do you have when a squirrel looks at you?

When a squirrel stares at you, it could mean they are evaluating the situation to decide if you pose a threat. This is usually done out of caution. If after assessing the situation they deem you not to be a danger, they will flee from the area. However, if they feel threatened, they may not hesitate to attack.

What are the signs that a squirrel is feeling scared?

A frightened squirrel can be identified by its behavior. It may remain alert and still, staring at the person it has spotted. Its tail may also be raised slightly above its back to signal fear or apprehension. The squirrel may also produce high-pitched vocalizations to express distress. If the human does not appear to pose a threat, the animal may move away rapidly.

Do squirrels have the ability to recognize individual faces?

It is not known for certain whether squirrels have the ability to recognize individual faces. They may have the ability to remember people who have given them food in the past and differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar faces, but this has yet to be proven. In general, however, squirrels are wary of humans and will usually go into “alert mode” when they see one, carefully observing their movements before deciding whether or not to flee.

How can you determine if a squirrel is displeased?

When a squirrel is mad, it can be identified by their body language. They will typically sit in an upright position, staring directly at the source of their anger with their tail held high. They could even huff or chirp loudly and make warning signs with their paws to show they are angry. If approached too closely, they may lunge or bite as a sign of aggression.

What happens if a squirrel comes close to you?

If a squirrel approaches you, it will likely go into an “alert mode” and stare at you. It will then evaluate if you are a threat or not. If not, it is likely to scurry away. On the other hand, if it senses danger, it may be aggressive or attack.

Are squirrels capable of feeling anger towards humans?

Squirrels are wary of humans, meaning they will assess a situation before deciding their best course of action. Generally, if no danger is perceived, the squirrel will scurry away from any contact. In the event that it senses a threat, the squirrel may choose to attack. This behaviour is understandable as they seek to protect themselves and survive.

Do squirrels get mad at you?

  • No, they do not get angry with people, they just react defensively when feeling threatened.


It is evident that Squirrels determine their environment with the help of their tail flicks, as they use it to warn their peers and predators of potential danger. In doing so, they allow themselves to safely move around or escape any given situation. This behavior serves multiple purposes, and helps squirrels survive in some dangerous circumstances.

So why do squirrels flick their tails? It’s a special way that squirrels have adopted over time, as a means of staying safe from harm and finding food without having to worry about being attacked by predators. This behavior benefits not only the squirrels but also other animals who are trying to avoid potential threats as well, making it one of the most important evolutionary advantages for these cute creatures.

You may also be interested in reading: