Squirrels: Do they have good memories?

Ever since Ice Age came out, squirrels have been known mostly for being excessively fond of nuts that they manage to scavenge and then successfully hide for later use. This is true and has also been observed by biologists and zoologists alike, and one of the reason this fascinates us so much is the fact that this behaviour resonates with that of humans as well – the conscious endeavour to store food for later use. So what exactly is the intuition behind this decision? Let’s find out!

What they eat

Squirrels, like other rodents, are likely to eat almost anything they can get their hands on! Note that even in urban settings, they tend to live close to nature and dwell mainly in trees. This is why you are likely to find squirrels eating berries, nuts, fruits, vegetables, fungi, plants and flowers! They are not particularly picky eaters, but cartoon and motion pictures have depicted them as nut-lovers, which is only partially true!

How smart are squirrels?

It is obvious that to judge an animals’ intelligence with the same standard as that of a human is futile, which is why scientist have their standard for measuring animal intelligence. By this standard, squirrels are relatively smart and have shown capacity for long-term memory and abstract thought. They are readily able to adapt to different surroundings and environments which is why they are prevalent in cities and forests alike.

Evolutionary advantage

The aforementioned ability to adapt and overcome problems is one of the reasons why it is very rare to see squirrels on the ‘vulnerable’ list. Squirrels are quick and agile creatures, which is why they can easily evade their natural predators. Furthermore, given their small size, they also procreate frequently. This gives squirrels an evolutionary advantage over animals that compete for the same resources as them. Squirrels are also able to deter other squirrels by pretending to hide their food if they feel another rodent is watching and only proceed actually to hide it when they are alone.

Do they recover all the nuts they bury?

Now that we have established the versatility of the squirrel, it is plain that this animal is capable of hiding their food from other animals. The question that fascinates us is that are they able to retrieve their food later on. Naturalists have observed that they normally do and the technique they use is similar to that of humans - by using landmarks. Furthermore, the squirrels’ superior memory plays a pivotal role in remembering the exact location. Not all of the nuts are always recovered and those that aren't going on to become trees, which is why squirrels are essential for the growth of a forest.

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