Basking squirrels

Even though the air temperature was well below 0F for most of the day, the squirrels were out looking for goodies.  Unlike their usual ground foraging activity, today their efforts seemed to be restricted to the trees.  Something I have never seen these squirrels do before:  flatten themselves against the tree and sit still for several minutes at a time.  I think they must have been trying to pick up some heat from solar radiation.

basking gray squirrel

This squirrel stayed in this position for more than 10 minutes.

This squirrel stayed in this position for more than 10 minutes.

I couldn’t find much in the science literature about basking behavior in gray squirrels, but there are other species of squirrels that definitely use this strategy to reduce metabolic costs in extreme cold weather.  Rather than remain inactive in their nest, the squirrels have opted to utilize whatever warmth the weak sunlight provides and hope they can remember where they stashed a few of their nuts for a quick snack.

5 thoughts on “Basking squirrels

  1. I’ve seen the same behavior in our gray squirrels. Sometimes, even on a cold day, I can feel just a tad of warmth on my back from the sun and it reminds me that warmer weather is not all that far away.

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