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Sat, Feb

The science of squirrels

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The first time Andrea Wishart held a baby squirrel, she knew then she wanted to better understand the furry little creatures, especially their boom-or-bust behaviours.

There are plenty of reasons why these bushy-tailed critters would want to maximize the amount of food to store for the winter, especially in the harsh climates of the Yukon, where Wishart, a PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, conducts her research.

 

The first time Andrea Wishart held a baby squirrel, she knew then she wanted to better understand the furry little creatures, especially their boom-or-bust behaviours.

There are plenty of reasons why these bushy-tailed critters would want to maximize the amount of food to store for the winter, especially in the harsh climates of the Yukon, where Wishart, a PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, conducts her research.

So why do some squirrels, who are active all year-round, hustle hard when it comes to gathering their food while others seem to slack?

“Squirrels are famous for caching food, storing it in their body as fat, or they will cache it in stores,” said Wishart. “So when they are breeding they return to this food source rather than seeking out additional sources. In the case of red squirrels, they have essentially collected a ‘refrigerator’ full of food underground.


 

Continue reading at University of Saskatchewan.

Image via University of Saskatchewan.