Do Squirrels Remember Where They Hide All of Their Nuts?
Squirrels don’t always remember where they have hidden all their nuts. Every autumn, the tree squirrel gathers and hides acorns and other nuts. It knows that food will be hard to find during the winter months. It buries small stores of nuts in many different places.
That way, if other animals find and eat some, the squirrel will have others. The squirrel depends on a keen sense of smell to help it relocate the hidden stores. Yet many of the nuts are forgotten or abandoned by the squirrel. Then the nuts may take root and grow into new nut trees.
Not all squirrels store food in the same way, though. Gray and Fox Squirrels, for example, hide their food by burying it in many different places underground. Scientists call this “scatter hoarding.”
Red and Pine Squirrels, on the other hand, hide their food in piles. They dig shallow pits — called middens — and cover them with leaves or other ground cover. Scientists call this “larder hoarding.”
When squirrels and other animals scatter hoard food for the winter, they don’t necessarily remember where they hid food. Some experts believe animals do remember where they bury food and might use landmarks, such as trees and plants, to help them remember where they’ve stored food.
Some squirrels even get tricky with their food hiding. Scientists have learned that some squirrels bury fake nuts. To fool other animals, they dig holes but bury nothing in them. They just pretend in order to make other animals think something is buried there!