4. They pretend to bury their food to confuse potential thieves
As food is scarce during the winter, squirrels must gather and bury as much as they can to ensure their survival. But keeping an eye on several food caches is difficult and theft is rife in the forest, with 25 per cent of a squirrel’s food cache being stolen.
Squirrels are opportunistic with a sensitive nose and can easily sniff out the food caches of other squirrels. It is common for squirrels to spy on others as they bury their food in the hope of stealing their buried treasure when they are not looking. But it’s not just other squirrels that they have to watch out for, as birds like blue jays also steal from their caches.
However, these intelligent rodents have developed a cunning way of protecting their food and throwing thieves off the scent. They do this by performing fake food burial displays, known as deceptive caching. The squirrel digs a shallow hole with its paws and frantically fills it in again as it pretends to bury a nut. This distracts the attention of potential thieves, allowing the squirrel to safely deposit its food in the real food cache.
“Keeping an eye on several food caches is difficult and theft is rife in the forest”