Do Squirrels Demonstrate Empathy?

Perhaps some clues to the answer to this question reside outside our window.   We were observing the “critter action” on the creek this week and were highly entertained by seven baby squirrels swinging from branch-to-branch across the old pecan trees, chattering and chasing each other up, down and around.  After several minutes,  we noticed a squirrel leg in full extension,  hanging from the barbed wire part of the bird house off of one of the big pecan trees; the remainder of the squirrel evidently inside of the birdhouse.  After several moments of no leg movement, we could only assume that this one particular squirrel had one leg permanently caught in the barbed wire of the birdhouse.  We watched in amazement as another squirrel kept trying to assist his squirrel friend, by pawing at his foot and using his teeth to try to free the other squirrel’s foot.  As he tried to help without success, we decided we would have to intervene before the squirrel broke his leg.  Armed with garden gloves,  needle-point pliers, and  stool, we proceeded to go outside to rescue the squirrel.  After several attempts at trying to free the squirrel”s toenail from the barbed wire by bending the wire downward, our neighbor came in to assist, as we needed more heighth.  He donned his gloves and climbed up on the stool, freeing the squirrel’s claw from the barbed wire.  The squirrel immediately scrambled back into the birdhouse.  We backed away and watched, as his squirrel friend climbed down onto the roof of the birdhouse and immediately stuck his head inside, chattering to the rescued squirrel.  After several minutes of conversation, both squirrels climbed out of the house and returned to their frolicking in the great pecan trees.  A loud chatter could be heard, as all of the squirrels “discussed” Fred’s adventure.  You decide the answer to the question!

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One thought on “Do Squirrels Demonstrate Empathy?

  1. What a great story. I googled “squirrel empathy” today because I sadly observed a squirrel running back and forth to a squirrel/s carcass in the street. I can only imagine what transpired.

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