I noticed the neighborhood stray tuxedo cat stalking the alpha squirrel who was nibbling nuggets in my front yard. I mumbled to myself that the cat will regret any attack she makes on that squirrel. The battle-worn rodent had championed many scuffles with felines in its past.
Sure enough, the cat dashed across the street straight towards the squirrel. Instantly, alpha squirrel scampered towards the cat. The head-on collision resulted in some type of offensive move by the squirrel. I heard the cat screech in fear then scramble away to the next door neighbor’s yard where it hunched down in submission. Meanwhile, alpha squirrel lept onto a nearby tree trunk and began scolding the cat. Even after the cat crept away, the scolding continued from higher in the tree for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes.
I’ve witnessed many life and death scenarios that involved squirrels. Although I’ve never seen a predator kill one; there have been several instances where they came up on the short end after falling from a tall branch or having stupid encounters with motor vehicles. Most squirrels appear cowardly and timid, but when pushed to their limits, they become aggressive.
Alpha squirrel rules his territory, that includes my yard, like a tyrant. People who walk their dogs down my street have trouble controlling their pets while alpha chatters at their intrusions into his territory. Crows and blue jays fly a wide berth whenever alpha is out and about.
Meantime, alpha squirrel is friendly or at least not hostile towards humans. Whenever the neighbors or I are outdoors, the little rodent simply goes about his business of grazing in the grass. He does display normal fear around unfamiliar humans, as should be the case.
Regarding his social behavior amongst other squirrels, alpha dominates without very much overt aggression. If some upstart squirrel attempts to challenge the status quo, alpha squirrel’s tail whips furiously while he stands his ground. Each brief challenge ends in retreat by the challenger. Alpha usually gets first dibs at the corn my neighbor Chuck places onto the squirrel feeder in his yard. If alpha shows up late for dinner, he shoves the others aside. This leaves the other squirrels to scavange the chewed up leftovers on the ground.
The squirrel world is a harsh one. I’ve witnessed many other dominant squirrels come and go throughout the years. I’m sure alpha’s dominance and life will be short-lived, too. Harsh weather, a passing car, or a wily predator may signal the dominant squirrel’s demise. He will be forgotten and his remains returned to Mother Earth. New generations of squirrels will scamper about through the neighborhood without a care in the world. This will be a minor tragedy.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Turkish-Polish poet, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director, and memoirist, Nazim Hikmet. “Living is no laughing matter: you must live with great seriousness like a squirrel for example. I mean without looking for something beyond and above living, I mean living must be your whole occupation.”
Love this story! The life of human alpha males are not much different from that of your alpha squirrel. A major difference is that the human’s reign of dominance and terror can last for much longer.
The domination game is both taught and innate. Observe boys and girls in school and see it in action.
So true, unfortunately…