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Squirreling away food

#funfactfriday When it comes to your "Reorganize my entire kitchen" New Year's resolution, are you a Grey Squirrel or a Red Squirrel?


Red Squirrels (right) make only a few very large caches. These storage areas are called 'middens' and the squirrels will fill them to the brim with as many nuts and seeds as they can find. This is called 'larder-hoarding'.


Grey Squirrels (below) store small amounts of nuts in hundreds of different locations in an area an actually organize those cache locations based on what kind of nuts they are storing, i.e. walnuts in one area and acorns in another. This is called 'scatter-hoarding'.


Which is the better strategy? It depends where you want to put your energy!


With scatter hoarding, a lot of energy is put into remembering where caches are and travelling about to retrieve food. Lots of caches get forgotten about, which means that the energy originally spent acquiring that food was wasted. It has the benefit however, of being more resistant to thievery, as there is only a small amount of food at each location.


In larder hoarding, much less energy needs to be spent hiding food and remembering locations. Very little food gets forgotten about, however a lot of energy must be spent defending the caches and heading off thieves. As there is so much food in one place, if a few thieves were to find one large cache, that could be a huge loss of food.



Extra fact: Eastern Grey Squirrels are a highly invasive species in BC, and even have the dubious distinction of being named as one of the Top 100 Worst Invasive Species in the world. They outcompete our Red Squirrels and will displace them from their natural habitats, Grey Squirrels also eat bird eggs and nestlings, dig up lawns, and chew through siding, wiring, and roofing.

Grey Squirrels have primarily spread via human-caused means (releases, accidental movement via vehicles, etc). If you trap a problematic Grey Squirrel(s), DO NOT release it somewhere else back into the wild, as this will only make the problem in the wild worse.

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