Nature Moments: Outsmarting Squirrels

Why is it so hard to keep squirrels off birdfeeders? After all, they’re just rodents with brains the size of a ping-pong ball. Squirrels are such amazing problem-solvers because they’re observant, social, experimental and persistent, says Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences Nathaniel T. Wheelwright.

Enjoy this latest Nature Moments video, and if you want to make your own natural history observations, The Naturalist’s Notebook by Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich (Storey Publishing, 2017) provides guidance and a systematic format, with 100 percent of royalties going to conservation and environmental education.

Check out more Nature Moments.

2 thoughts on “Nature Moments: Outsmarting Squirrels

  1. Eric M Weis

    I have a backyard bird feeding hobby. I have MOSTLY outsmarted the rodents; I designed my own squirrel-proof post feeder with TWO baffles, plus metal sheathing which they find tough to climb.

    But for squirrels, this is a matter of life and death, being able to get food. So I leave one feeder which is relatively accessible, filled with sunflower seed.

    Now, if I can only figure out how to defeat the deer birds from stealing seed.


    Dear Prof. Nat,
    I went through an evolution similar to your squirrel video when I found chain to be the only material that wouldn’t get chewed apart. However, the squirrels learned to climb above the chain and hoist the feeder up to them. I anchored the feeder with a chain going to the ground. The squirrels climbed into the tree and threw themselves against the feeder which dislodged seeds which they retrieved from the ground. They were very resourceful. I never found a 100% foolproof solution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *