Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Fourth Day of Squirrel Awareness Month

On the fourth day of Squirrel Awareness Month my squirrel love gave to me
Four cups of nuts,
Three Baby Ruth bars,
Two ice cream cones,
and an acorn in an oak tree!

Today's squirrel video demonstrates how tree squirrels use spatial memory to locate hidden nuts. The poster of the YouTube video experimented with three different squirrels, hiding nuts under one of four cups in a squirrely shell game. The squirrels always returned to the cup in the same position where they had previously found the nuts, even when the nuts were moved to a different cup, and even after a different colored cup had been substituted for the original.

The poster of the video makes one error in the description, saying that squirrels do not smell nuts but only locate them based on memory. Squirrels have an excellent sense of smell and most certainly can smell nuts. However, this video may demonstrate that squirrels rely more heavily on spatial memory when searching for recently-cached nuts or for food that they have recently found in a specific location.

I hope that after the experiment was ended, the squirrels were rewarded with all four cups filled with nuts!

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