Here's what it means if a baby chipmunk or squirrel approaches you in Toronto
Baby chipmunks and squirrels are undeniably adorable, and though many people would love the chance to get up close and personal with one, it's important to know what it means if one of these creatures ever does approach you.
That's because if the baby is old enough to be exploring outside of its nest, it's also old enough to be wary of predators like people, according to the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC), and the mother is typically always nearby to protect it and teach it to stay away from danger.
So if a baby chipmunk or squirrel does approach you, it likely means it's orphaned and engaging in an act of desperation TWC has dubbed "pant tugging."
"When older baby squirrels are orphaned, they get so hungry and desperate that they will run right up to people," says TWC. "They might crawl up your pant leg or sit on your shoe. It happens often enough that our wildlife hotline has a word for these older orphaned babies: 'pant tuggers.'"
These #EasternChipmunks have quite the appetite!— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) June 14, 2022
After losing their mother, the brothers were starving and began approaching humans. This behaviour is called “pant tugging” and occurs when babies are so desperate for food that they risk approaching predators in search of a meal. pic.twitter.com/uX0UqnPK1z
The first things you should do if you encounter a pant tugger, according to TWC, are: get it contained in a cardboard box, give it a heat source, and contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
Because while these babies may seem friendly, TWC says they're actually far more scared, cold and desperate than they appear.
"The best way to keep them calm and safe is to put them in a dark, quiet place with a heat source to snuggle up to," says TWC.
"Keep pets and people away. We don't normally recommend food or water, but a squirrel this age can be offered a nice big chunk of apple. That will give it enough moisture and sugar to keep it going until you can find a rehabilitator to take it to."
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