4. They pre­tend to bury their food to con­fuse po­ten­tial thieves

World of Animals - - 10 Reasons We’re Nutty About Squirrels -

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”

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