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During the eighties, extensive experiments were
completed to try and establish exactly how
squirrels remembered where they left their food
stashes. Did they remember? How did they remember?
What did they use to help remind them of the
Memory does play a big part in helping squirrels
reunite with their hoards, but there are other
factors at play too. Odor, for example, can help a
squirrel to find where it left food. Urine scents,
as well as scent marking, will help the animal
find it’s way back “home” so to speak. They also
use the same process to help lead them right back
to where they can find sustenance should they need
it. Where odor and memory doesn’t work, landmarks
will help to guide the way, although they aren’t
quite the landmarks you’re thinking of.
No, the squirrel does not walk to the Empire State
building and then three steps to the left, but
their nut-finding journey does work in pretty much
the same way. The squirrel will remember a certain
tree, for example, giving them a broad indication
of where the food stash is.
There are other factors too, such as what species
of squirrel you’re talking about, as well as where
in the world the squirrel is from. North American
red squirrels, for example, have a central
location point where they stash the good stuff for
winter, and this “midden” (as it is called) will
be somewhere in their territory, making it easy to
access. What the squirrel does is build a larder,
either in the forks of branches or under leaves.
When the winter comes and food supplies are low,
the squirrel will have an easy time remembering
that one central storage point. Douglas squirrels
are also known to do the same thing.
Other squirrels do not work in the same way. There
are some species that have a “eat later” pile.
This won’t be a larder, but rather a doggy bag.
They fully intend to eat the food they have
stashed a short while into the future, rather than
storing a whole bunch of foods to help see them
through the cold months. The African tree squirrel
is known to do this, usually scattered around
hollows in tree branches. It would be harder for
these squirrels to remember every space they leave
their nuts in, having more of them dotted around.
However, at the same time, where there are more
stashes on offer, it doesn’t matter if you forget.
There will be another one close by.
Of course, squirrels don’t remember all the nuts,
seeds and other delights they have stashed, and
some of them will even change by the time they
have come back for them. Seeds, for example, can
easily sprout and grow roots, so by the time the
squirrel comes back to eat it, a tree will have
started to grow right on the spot where there once
was a food stash. Of course, more trees can only
be a good thing, but when that tree has started to
grow from a seed you would have wanted to eat, we
can imagine it could be quite confusing. And also
For more information, you may
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