Do Squirrels Remember Humans? 🐿️

Absolutely. Squirrels are incredibly intelligent animals – and if a human makes it worth their while (by regularly feeding them) – they will remember for sure!

How Do Squirrels Remember Humans?

Hungry squirrel eating nut from man hand. Autumn scene in Hyde park, London, United Kingdom

Any animal with any intelligence will learn to connect two things together if those two things result in something good. Sometimes in just a matter of minutes. However, wild animals have to have a sort of wariness about them to survive – so it may take longer to build up a rapport with a squirrel than it would train a dog to spin in a circle.

Squirrels can connect things together too – so your smell, voice, timings, and appearance can all identify you specifically in a squirrel’s mind. If you have made yourself known as frightening – it will avoid you – or anyone who acted smelled or talked like you. However, if every time you came over and said ‘Hello’ you handed out peanuts – they will learn who you are pretty fast.

The more you went over there – the more they would learn about you – and they could tell you apart from other humans who regularly fed them. When kept in captivity – apparently squirrels are one-person pets – really forming a bond with just one owner. However, in the wild – when food is the most important thing a squirrel can find – they will happily befriend as many people as they care to.

Can You Feed A Squirrel From Your Hand?

Once you have this lovely bond with your wild squirrel – you can easily train it to take food from your hand. There are loads of videos online of people hand-feeding squirrels in parks and gardens. Sometimes – if they are really used to being fed – they will take food off almost anyone – even if they have never met you before.

However, if you want to train a squirrel yourself – it is really easy. Just a few simple steps – and plenty of peanuts!

Firstly, you need to let the squirrel know that whenever you come to see them, you give them food. Obviously, they won’t take the food off you – or know who you are – at first. So, when you first arrive, just pop some peanuts on the ground near them, walk away a bit, and sit down.

Little girl feeds a squirrel in Central park, New York

Stay still while they find the nuts and munch away. Gradually, on your visits, start sitting nearer to the nuts, and occasionally say something in a low gentle voice – repeating a single name (you can call your squirrel whatever you want) or word if you want to use a conditioning trigger.

Once they are used to you close by and speaking – then you can get closer and closer until you are sitting there with the food actually on your hand. If you haven’t moved too fast – or a dog doesn’t suddenly run by – you could then be hand feeding your new squirrel.

Remember though – that they are wild animals and can carry diseases that are transmissible to humans – so do take precautions.

Article: Do Squirrels have Rabies?

Will A Wild Squirrel Become Your Pet?

It would be very unwise to assume that you could befriend a squirrel in the park and gradually make them your pet. Firstly, catching a wild animal could make it real mad as its survival instincts kick in. It may have been really friendly at a distance and fed from your hand – but when trapped – they often behave differently.

They are also wild – so have things that they are attached to in their spot in the park. Also, they are living where they are in the park because it has everything they need. Moving them to your own yard might not offer them enough (probably why you have no squirrels already in your yard) – so they may move on anyway. Or get themselves really hurt trying to return to their home range.

You can have a wild squirrel as a pet (unless your state prohibits it) but you need to have a captive-bred or hand-reared one from a kit (baby) to have it believe your home is the place to stay. Even then, letting it run outside could mean having them run off. They don’t bond to humans in the same way and dogs and cats – even though they can remember you. Many released squirrels do pop back to visit for food every now and then though.