How Many Acorns Can a Squirrel Hold in Its Mouth?
The first thing to understand about squirrels is that they have digestive tracts similar to ours. As a result, they are capable of holding a few acorns in their mouths at a time. It’s thought that squirrels can store up to 10 acorns in their mouths. According to Jessica Watson, PHD from University of Washington, who has studied the behavior and interactions of squirrels, they can fit up to 10 acorns in their mouth. She has presented her research at many wildlife conferences, including the National Association for Conservation Biology and the American Association of Wildlife Biologists.
Tree squirrels are “scatter hoarders”
Unlike other squirrels, tree-dwelling species are not obligate scatter hoarders. This behaviour is due to the fact that they must store food for lean times, and each species has its own unique ways of doing so. Eastern gray squirrels, for example, scatter-hoard their food by burying each nut in individual holes, and digging fake holes in which to hide their caches. The eastern gray squirrel’s success rate in retrieving buried nuts is as high as 85 percent. Red squirrels, on the other hand, are “larder hoarders” and tunnel through snow to access their stockpiles.
Researchers from Princeton University in California studied the feeding habits of these creatures. They found that they stored the same kinds of nuts in different locations, so that they could find them later. This strategy helps to reduce the memory load and maximize retrieval accuracy. This means that tree squirrels have a more complex and sophisticated memory than their domestic counterparts. For example, they are able to sort and store their nuts according to size, type, and nutritional value, while still remembering where to find the same nuts.
They store nuts in their cheeks
The size of the cheek pouch of a squirrel depends on the species. Larger species, like fox squirrels, can carry up to two nuts in their mouths. However, smaller species, such as the gray squirrel, can only carry one nut. They also burrow and build multiple nests. Squirrels are territorial animals that love nuts, and some studies suggest they have a heightened sense of memory. However, the cognitive capabilities of squirrels have not been studied extensively. Despite their size, squirrels may not have the cognitive abilities of other rodents.
A recent study from the University of Richmond found that squirrels can only store seventy percent of the acorns they gather. The acorns that squirrels gather have a similar digestive system to ours, so their stomachs are similar to ours. One study also showed that squirrels can hold up to 12 acorns in their mouths. Acorns can weigh up to two ounces.
They eat acorns
The answer to the question, “How many acorns can a squirrel hold in its mouth?” lies in the shape and size of acorns. Acorns are the preferred food of Eastern Gray Squirrels. These mammals eat mainly acorns, beech-nuts, and hickory nuts. Insects make up less than 2 percent of their diet. Most ground squirrels carry acorns in their cheek pouches. Flying squirrels, on the other hand, do not have cheek pouches. These animals can carry around twelve acorns at a time.
Tree squirrels are common throughout North America and can be seen in many outdoor spaces. This method of gathering food does not require squirrels to build dens or nests. Instead, they keep themselves fed by foraging for acorns. While this system is simpler than your home pantry, it still suggests that these creatures have superior memory skills. The question of, “How many acorns can a squirrel fit in its mouth” can be answered by comparing a squirrel’s acorn-eating habits with a human’s.
They forget 10% of the nuts they bury
Squirrels are nature’s foresters. Their burying and spreading of tree nuts contribute to the growth of millions of trees each year in North America. Squirrels forget about 10% of the nuts they bury. So why do they keep burying nuts? The answer is a combination of good memory and the ability to mark their spots. It is believed that the squirrels have a “spatial chunking” mnemonic technique.
One of the secrets of squirrels’ remembrance is that they can spatially chunk and separate nuts of similar types, which may aid them in remembering where they buried a particular cache. A 2017 study on fox squirrels showed that these rodents were able to sort nuts by species and then bury them together a short distance away. In this way, they form a sorting mental map of where they have buried food.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.