What Does It Mean When A Squirrel Stands Up?

what does it mean when a squirrel stands up

Squirrels are fascinating creatures to watch and can be pretty entertaining, but they have a habit that can make some people uneasy; they stand up. Why do squirrels do this, and should you be concerned when they do stand up? 

Squirrels stand up for various reasons, including defending their territory, accessing a threat, curiosity, hunger, and more. When a squirrel stands up and stares in a direction, this is nothing for you to worry about as they are accessing their environment closer to ensure their safety. 

When squirrels stand up, this can be unsettling for some people, but this is a needed natural behavior that squirrels do. This article will explore why squirrels stand up and stare and what you should do when they do, so keep reading!

Why Do Squirrels Stand Up?

Squirrels are fun little creatures that are adored by many. They roam around neighborhoods, and most people in those areas get to know them well. However, squirrels have one unusual habit that can make some people uneasy. 

This habit is unexpectedly standing up on their hind legs and staring at you or off into the distance like they are aware of something you don’t know. This can put people on edge, as they have no idea what the squirrel is doing. 

So, why do squirrels stand up on their hind legs? There are several reasons squirrels do this, and understanding these can help put you at ease. Let’s review why squirrels stand up to ensure you understand this behavior better. 

To Defend Their Territory

Squirrels might stand up on their hind legs to defend their territory. Squirrels are territorial animals that will fight unwanted or unknown squirrels that enter their territory. 

However, the squirrel must identify if the intruder is a threat before the fighting begins. 

The squirrel needs to make itself look as intimidating as possible. The way the squirrel completes both of these tasks is by standing up. 

An upright position will give the squirrel a better line of sight on the intruder so that the squirrel can size them up. 

Standing up also allows the squirrel to present themselves in an enhanced and puffed-up posture that could scare off the intruder without a fight needing to take place. 

So, if you see a squirrel stand up and try to look bigger and tougher than it probably is, and you see another squirrel nearby, this is most likely the reason for the squirrel standing. 

They Are Curious About Something

Another reason squirrels might stand up is that they are curious about something that has caught their eye. For example, the squirrel might be curious about you and what you are doing, or it might be curious about another animal it has seen in the area. 

The squirrel will stand up to gain a more comprehensive picture of the area and the animal or human it’s curious about. 

When this happens, the squirrel will stand up quite casually and stare in the direction of the object or person that caught its attention. 

The squirrel might move toward the object or person if they are curious enough; otherwise, it will go back to what they were doing after having a good look. 

The Squirrel Is Assessing A Possible Threat

Squirrels are rodents, which means they are prey animals and are hunted by other wildlife for food. For this reason, squirrels are always vigilant and ready to assess a threat should one appear. The way a squirrel accesses a threat or reacts to a threat is to stand up and stare at it. 

The reason squirrels do this is that the threat could be too close; therefore, it’s too dangerous for the squirrel to move, or the squirrel’s nest might be close by. Therefore, it wants to ensure this threat is valid before running to the nest. 

The squirrel will stand up and freeze as it accesses the danger, so if you see a squirrel standing up, motionless, there could be a threat to them close by that they are staring at and accessing. 

The Squirrel Might Be Hungry

Another reason squirrels might stand up is that they are starving. This generally happens when the squirrel is accustomed to human interaction and feels comfortable around you, knowing you aren’t a threat. 

The squirrel might stand up when it sees you and give you begging stares, hoping you have food for it, as it’s pretty hungry. This will likely happen in seasons when the squirrel’s natural food is running low, like fall or winter. 

So, if a squirrel stands up, stares at you when it sees you, and begins to make its way closer, it might be looking for a snack. 

The Squirrel Senses Something Close By

Squirrels have incredibly keen senses that allow them to pick up on the slightest change in their immediate environment. Their senses are much better than ours, meaning they can sense things we aren’t even aware of. 

If a squirrel senses something out of the ordinary, it will stand up to look around its environment and see if it’s a threat. When you see a squirrel suddenly stand up and look around, it could be that it senses something you don’t. 

The Squirrel Might Be Sleeping

Squirrels have the unusual habit of sleeping while standing up and with their eyes open. This is how squirrels will nap during the day, especially if they didn’t sleep well the night before. Then, during the day, squirrels will find a relatively safe area, and they will have a nap.

They will stand up and keep their eyes open while they sleep. This allows the squirrel’s brain to still process what’s happening around the squirrel and recognize any possible danger while the squirrel sleeps. 

This can look unsettling to people as the squirrel is just standing there with its eyes wide open, not moving or doing anything. However, this is normal behavior for the squirrel, enjoying a little nap. 

What To Do If A Squirrel Near You Stands Up

If a squirrel stands up near you, there is nothing to worry about, as the squirrel is accessing you and its surroundings. 

If the squirrel comes up to you, you can offer it some nuts if you have any to spare, but the squirrel is not a threat to you and will most likely run away from you before you even get close. 

Final Word

Squirrels are unique animals that have excellent survival instincts and senses. For example, one thing a squirrel will do regularly is stand up on its hind legs. Squirrels do this for various reasons, and not all of these reasons mean the squirrel is in danger, and none of them mean that you are in danger. 

If you see a squirrel standing up and looking around, try to spot what has caught its attention. You may even get the chance to offer it food from your hand if it’s feeling peckish! 

Take pleasure in observing and delving into the curious behavior of these adorable animals.

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