Important Wildlife Lesson: Baby Squirrels Unfamiliar with Pistachios

Add to the list of the great mysteries of nature: How can a baby squirrel understand a sunflower seed, but be stumped by a pistachio?

The National Wildlife Federation gives its employees one telework day a week, so yesterday I worked from my first-floor apartment in Falls Church, VA. I had a new visitor to the bird feeder on my patio – a young black squirrel. Unlike a lot of backyard bird watchers, I don’t mind squirrels since my cat loves watching them through my window. A friend randomly left some pistachios at my place a few months back, and since I don’t like them I’ve been giving them to the squirrels when possible.

The baby squirrel must be getting fed on another patio as well, because it ran right up to my glass door and peered in at me looking for a handout. I tossed it some of the pistachios and after sniffing them for a few moments, it gave me the look pictured here. Its expression seems to be, “Um, did you expect me to know how these work?” I would expect to get the same look from a toddler handed a Maryland crab feast and a mallet.

I’ve watched an adult squirrel crack into a pumpkin, so yes, I kinda did think a pistachio would be within the realm of possibilities. Fortunately, there were plenty of sunflower seeds to keep the baby squirrel happy. And with any luck, while I’m at the office today it can get a pistachio-cracking lesson from mama squirrel.

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Published: October 27, 2011