I’ve been reading the new book “The Folly of Fools: the logic of deceit and self-deception in human life” by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers. This is my favourite bit.
“That deception might induce anger and attack was suggested to me very forcefully in my own life some thirty years ago. I was taking a walk, carrying my one-year-old son in my arms, when I spotted a squirrel in a tree. The problem was that my son did not see the squirrel, so I whistled as melodically as I could to draw the squirrel closer to us and, sure enough, the squirrel crept forward, but my son still could not see it. So I decided to reverse my relationship with the squirrel and mimic an attack. I suddenly lunged at it. I expected it to scamper away from me. I would have ruined a budding friendship but allowed my son to see the squirrel as it rushed away from us. Instead, the squirrel ran straight at us, chittering in apparent rage, teeth fully exposed, jumping to the branch closest to me and my son. Now my son saw the squirrel, and I had the fright of my life, quickly running several steps away. For my folly, the squirrel could have killed my son with a leap to my shoulders and two expert bites to his neck. Had I begun the relationship hostile, I believe the squirrel never would have become so angry. It was the betrayal implied by beginning friendly, only to attack (deception) that triggered the enormous anger.”
They clearly have some seriously bad-ass Sciuridae where Trivers lives.