There’s a lot we know about squirrels.
They bury food, build multiple nests, love eating nuts, very territorial, and of course: they’re really adorable.
But, there haven’t been too many studies about their cognitive abilities, and whether or they can remember places, things or even people.
In this article, we’ll give our thoughts as to whether or not a squirrel has a good memory and can remember us. We’ll base this on observations while caring for injured squirrels in the rehab hospital.
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Do Squirrels Remember You?
Squirrels are capable of remembering food sources and complex patterns for retrieving nuts. They also seem to understand human signals for food. However, wild squirrels may not necessarily remember you as an individual if there is no clear benefit.
An example of this is when humans take good nuts for squirrels to a park and all the squirrels begin to make their way to the person carrying the bag of nuts.
Does the squirrel actually remember you, the human? Or are all the squirrels responding to the typical indicators which they see day in and day out, that food is on the way.
Experience observing, feeding, caring for and releasing squirrels tells me that wild squirrels probably don’t make those connections.
Why Squirrels Didn’t Remember Us: A guess
Squirrels that were treated and released didn’t seem to remember the volunteers and rehabbers, months later. By that I mean, they didn’t bother to approach us for squirrel food.
But, they didn’t take off running either. So… perhaps the squirrels DID actually remember, at the very least, that we were not a threat to their safety.
So either the squirrels either didn’t remember that we filled their bellies for weeks, or they didn’t care.
That said, we also didn’t spend time building relationships with the squirrels. At the wildlife hospital, we were instructed not to communicate with the animals, so as to avoid imprinting.
Do Squirrels Have Long Enough Memory to Remember Humans?
Here is a picture of a Squirrel who remembers me!! Well…. at least that’s what I tell myself.
To be fair, without actual data, we can’t be sure if squirrels remember humans (per se), but I know for a fact squirrels definitely remember food source locations.
This picture was taken in the winter after a major snow storm. The wild squirrels are hungry and I recognize this one here as the squirrel that lives in my neighbors tree.
She is always the first one I see in the morning and she remembers that there are usually a few nuts to be found on the porch railing.
Well, I forgot to put them out the night before, and she remembered.
I was able to get really close to her and examine here eyes, fur, ears and whiskers.
She looks really healthy. Brave as she was in the window, as soon as I opened the front door, to put a few nuts out, she took off.
I’m okay with that..
Wild Squirrel Memory vs. Pet Squirrel
When I observe videos of people with pet squirrels, there definitely seems to be more of an emotional connection between the squirrel and human.
People with pet squirrels seem to think they remember the person who feeds them.
Conclusion of Squirrel Memory
The squirrels we rehabbed didn’t seem to have favorite people or act any differently based on the actual person.
As for wild squirrels that I feed from my porch, I think if they actually remembered me, as a person, they would not take of running every time I open the door.
Then again, I don’t attempt to create a connection any deeper than: healthy food source.
Let’s hope someone does an actual study some day, as I’m sure it will make great reading.
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