The squirrels are able to remember every place where they have put their treasure, and they do not need a map for it. Before it was thought that the squirrels can remember where they put the food because of the smell, but it has been found out that its memory will play a big role when it comes to the food retrieval.
Many species of squirrels do practice various methods when it comes to their food storage. One method used is known as larger hoarding. The storage area, also known as midden or central location, may be found in a tree cavity or under the leaves. It can also be in a branch fork. Squirrels store food for just a short period while others just keep the eaten nut in the branches and come back to eat them afterwards. Most squirrels do bury their food as a way to store them. They keep them in different caches, and they will dig them when the food is not available like in the winter. This is the chosen method since other squirrels and animals cannot find their stock, especially since they are found in many locations.
The squirrels may use smell partly when they steal nuts from the caches of other squirrels. However, the scent is not always reliable, and if the ground is dry or covered in snow, then the squirrel only wants to dig up the food from its own caches even if they do smell the food of other squirrels around.
It has been found out that the squirrel uses spatial memory in order to get to their buried nuts if they want to locate the place where they have stored the food. The squirrels will visit their caches often compared to how often they try to visit the caches of other squirrels. This means that they use their memory when it comes to finding their food. The squirrels will bury their food near landmarks that aid them in remembering where they have stored such food. Studies have suggested that squirrels bury their food in different locations, and it helps them to make a cognitive map of all the storage spots they have made.
The squirrels keep in mind what they have put in their caches and where they have kept them. When they visit, they start with the cache that has a greater amount of food to see if the food is not stolen and if it is still good.
Go back to the Squirrels in the Attic home page.