Psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley are studying the ability of squirrels to find and make strategic food reserves.
Scientists are interested in how these animals choose the area for the collection of nuts, where they hide them, and how these places are remembered. In other words, the researchers decided to find out to what extent these animals have developed the mind to learn how to make decisions and remember thousands of things: where are hidden stocks made a few months ago.
The study involved about 70 forest squirrels that were observed by volunteer students. They compared the area where the animals lived with their memory systems. As a result, the naturalists were able to draw up a detailed map on which they marked more than 1000 places with hidden nuts.
Professor Jacobs, a leading expert in squirrel behavior studies, believes that these animals are an ideal example to improve understanding of the psychology of wilderness survival. At the same time, he believes that squirrels are very intelligent animals and think about the future, so they find hidden nuts not only through their sense of smell but also through a combination of architectural elements and memory. Meanwhile, other scientists believe that squirrels, on the contrary, have a bad memory, and thanks to this, new trees grow from the forgotten, hidden in the ground, squirrel nuts.
Squirrels are found everywhere except Australia. This lively and mobile animal is considered a typical inhabitant of forests. And, steering by the tail, the squirrel easily jumps from tree to tree on a 3 or 4 meters in a straight line and 10-15 meters on a descending curve. At the same time, during the snowless period, as well as during the race of the squirrel spends most of his time on the ground, where he moves jumps. At the same time, individual plots are poorly expressed and overlapping.
The squirrel is active in the morning and evening hours. The diet includes more than 130 items of fodder. Sanctuaries are arranged on trees. In deciduous forests lives in hollows, dragging there soft bedding of grass, wood lichens, and dry leaves. He builds spherical nests in coniferous forests at a height of 7 to 15 meters. I should also note that each animal may have several such nests, in which the animal lives for two to three days. Scientists believe that in this way these animals are saved from parasites. Female calves during this period are transferred from nest to nest in teeth. In winter, one nest can contain up to 6 squirrels, although usually, these animals are single.
In addition to mass migrations, the squirrel is characterized by seasonal nomads associated with consistent maturation of feed and the transition of young animals to an independent lifestyle. At the same time, some adults stay in place; from the usual food, they switch to low-calorie food with a high content of fiber (buds, lichens, needles, and bark of young shoots). Thanks to this group, the local population is then restored.
The squirrels are very fertile. During the race, up to 6 males are kept near the females, which demonstrate aggression towards their competitors – rumble loudly, paw at the branches, and run after each other. Pregnancy lasts about 38 days. Newborn squirrels are born naked and blind and weigh only 8 grams. Wool appears after two weeks, and they start to see only 30 days. At the same time, they are ready for independent life at the age of 10 weeks, but their mother feeds them with milk for a month and a half.
I should also note that in captivity, the squirrel lives on average for up to 12 years. For comparison, the nature of the old is considered a 4-year-old squirrel. The share of such animals in the most favorable conditions does not exceed 10%. In areas with intensive squirrel fishing, the population is completely updated only for 4 years. The mortality rate of young squirrels is especially high – up to 85% of squirrels do not survive their first winter.