Planting Nuts

The bushy-tailed creatures known as squirrels collect and store nuts, so they’ll have food to last through winter.  That thriftiness benefits more than just the squirrel, as it also helps the trees, since squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury.  This misplacing of so many acorns (the seeds of oak trees), will likely be responsible for forest regeneration.  When squirrels misplace these buried acorns they allow for these seeds to eventually grow into full oak trees.  Tree squirrels are one of the most important animals for helping oaks spread, because they store acorns in the ground, practically planting baby oak trees squirrels bury nuts all over the place, and often forget them.

When the weather catches a chill, it begins to look like a preparation for a wide-scale scavenger hunt.  In great numbers, squirrels begin to bury nuts hiding them for when food will be more scarce.  How do the squirrels find their nuts again?  Eastern gray squirrels, frequently bury and rebury their nuts, as a way to help them keep their memory fresh of the nut’s location.  However, it’s not only memory that squirrels need to combat in order to find their nuts!  The gray squirrel community is rampant with nut theft.  Squirrels can lose as much as 25% of their cached nuts to such thieves!  Luckily, squirrels have developed some clever tactics to protect their nuts.  Scientists have observed squirrels creating false caches in order to trick thieves.  If squirrels are suspicious of thieves, they will also start to hide their nuts in difficult to reach places (like under bushes or in muddy areas).

Written for Ragtag Community – Squirrel.

17 thoughts on “Planting Nuts

      1. We only have them in city parks – but we have possums and mad birds! At the moment, the guava is in flower and all the coloured parrots come in for a sugar-fix; they’re so enraptured by the nectar, I can walk right up next to them! We call it the bird-pub, especially when they start talking all at the same time, and all gibberish!

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      1. I do not hate them, but I do not have affection for them either. They are part of the scenery around here. Now the chipmunks, otoh, are extremely cute 🙂 With the bird feeders there’s a burgeoning chipmunk population. This summer I added some large rocks along the edge of the driveway. I strategically placed them one on either side of one of their holes, then added another stone as a roof. How’s that for accommodating nature?

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  1. When I lived back east we used to have 3 bird feeders in our backyard and had devices to make it difficult for the squirrels to get to the seeds in the feeders. But those determined squirrels somehow still managed to get into the feeders.

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