“Wake up and smell the roses” isn’t a phrase reserved for humans. Animals have shown that they can appreciate a flower’s beauty. Thankfully, a photographer was on hand to capture the moment a squirrel takes some time to do just that.
When Dutch photographer Dick Van Duijn set up shop in a flower field in Austria to take pictures of squirrels, he never thought he would capture the precious moment a squirrel paused to admire a flower.
The 34-year old professional photographer had taken roughly 200 pictures before capturing the exact moment a small ground squirrel stopped at a yellow daisy, leaned in, smelled the flower, and even appeared to hug it. Van Duijn posted the photo series on Instagram with the caption “Smells like Summer.” 
The images series showed other small ground squirrels examining flowers in the field in order to find out which ones would be best to eat. After a while, our flower connoisseur reached for a yellow daisy and touched the flower to its face to take in its scent.
What really set this squirrel apart was the fact that it appeared to close its eyes as it inhaled the floral aroma. However, Van Duijn admits that the little fellow leaned in to take a tasty bite moments later.
“This curious ground squirrel started smelling and tasting the flower,” the photographer recalled. “I was really happy after capturing a photo like this.
“I went to Austria especially to photograph the ground squirrels,” he added. “It was great to witness this, and very satisfying.” 
You can view more of Van Duijn’s photos here.
Animals sniffing flowers are not just cute but functional too.
Flowers have the most alluring smell, and not only to the impressionable bees. They use their scent to attract various insects and small animals to carry around their pollen and help them reproduce. While some flowers have developed an almost symbiotic relationship which certain species, like bees, for instance, other types of flora will take any comers. 
Most plants actively try to entice any passing pollinator to stop and take a whiff by responding to their airborne sounds. For example, a daisy flower may try to attract any nearby animals or insects, especially bees, to land on it by increasing its production of sweet nectar. This ensures their longevity as the more pollen they are able to disburse, the higher their chances of survival.
This mutualistic relationship benefits both life forms as they work together to survive. Experts believe that animals and plants who share such a link evolved together with each one being an essential part of the other’s environment. This allows them to adapt to their environment and make use of each other in a way that benefits them both. 
Another example of a mutualistic relationship between plants and animals is the spider crab and the greenish-brown algae. Most spider crabs prefer to live in shallow areas of the ocean and algae moves into their backs, making them unnoticeable to predators. In this relationship, the algae get an excellent place to live, and the crab gets natural camouflage.
The squirrel and the daisy is not quite a mutualistic relationship, but the daisy got to reproduce, the squirrel got a tasty treat, Dick Van Duijn got a mesmerizing photo shoot, and we all get to enjoy the tender pictures of a squirrel nuzzling a flower. Everybody wins!
- “Photographer captures moment squirrel stops to smell flower”, NBC. September 2019.
- “Photographer captures moment ‘curious’ squirrel stops to smell a flower“, Fox News. September 2019.
- “Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever (101 Pics)”, Bored Panda.
- “Mutualistic Relationships“, NECSI.