Do squirrels remember where they bury nuts?
I was walking down the street headed to the grocery shop last week when I spotted a squirrel busy digging in a nearby park. What a surprise? This creature was having with it a big nut. Funnily enough, my presence did not shake it, hence, it continued with its digging job. Funny how I did not make it freeze. I was shocked, and therefore, I had to stop by and watch for myself. After digging a slight deep hole, it took the nut and dropped it inside carefully. Later on, the soil was being taken back, ensuring that the nut was fully covered. Guess what happened next, it dropped leaves on it and immediately left for the next spot. Honestly speaking, I did not get it at all. I had these questions lingering on my mind. Why would it bury the nut inside? Is it possible that it will find it or probably forget the spot? Will the same squirrel come back for it or others will find it? Are there other squirrels doing the same or I just met a crazy one? I was so confused and shocked that I decided to carry out my own research.
After carrying out my research, it sounded weird and funny to me that the same way you remember where you left your car keys is the same way these creatures remember where they buried their nuts. They get the help through landmarks, although they end up not locating all of them. Note this from the beginning that not all of these squirrels bury nuts though. Acorns and walnuts are buried by the gray squirrels which are not the case with the red squirrels. Gray squirrels may only find 26% of the nuts buried because most of the percentage usually germinate but the fact still remains that they find something to eat at the end of the day. For the red squirrels, their nuts never germinate because they do not bury them underground, it is done on the ground. Following their habitat, in the forest, gray squirrels are ahead of the game when it comes to long-term investment.
Initially, some people believed that they cannot remember their stores unless there is an odor, but so many studies and my own research ruled this belief out. Squirrels mind about their future and nothing has stopped them from doing so up to now. During winter, grey squirrels are usually busy digging the nuts out and sometimes reburying them. According to most studies, grey squirrels do a lot of digging and reburying only after eating most of them. They deserve a trophy and nothing else for their hard work. In fact, they are the greatest contributors of forest restoration because when they fail to get them back, the nuts germinate and sprout out. I can call this an evolution process in action. They have a lot more to eat when food is scarce. I somehow treasure these creatures for such kind of intelligence.
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