I love reading about animals and their fascinating, often surprising behavior. Some time ago I read a very interesting article about squirrels.
As some of you might know, squirrels typically don’t hibernate, so before winter begins they need to prepare their nests and food supplies.
Many species of squirrel are “larder hoarders”, which means that each individual stores its food in one central area that it defends aggressively against invaders. But some squirrels are “scatter hoarders”, collecting and burying one nut at a time. The size of this area might range up to 7 acres, making it virtually impossible to keep an eye on all the caches at once. As such, other squirrels and birds take advantage of it, raiding some of the caches. It’s been estimated they lose about 25% of what they bury to thieves.
To keep their caches safe they use different anti-pilfering techniques. Gray squirrels occasionally engage “deceptive caching”. Rather than simply burying a nut, the squirrel digs a hole in the ground and vigorously covers it up again, without depositing a nut in the hole. It repeats this behavior several times before it actually hides the nut, leaving behind a trail of empty cache sites around the real ones. This makes it harder for other animals to know where the squirrel hid its nuts.
After reading about it I couldn’t help but imagine the squirrel with these suspicious eyes, wary of any thief that would want to get its treasures.