Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Smart, Entertaining Squirrels

© 2005 Donna L. Watkins
Our squirrels are certainly smart ones and we all know squirrels are entertaining while being naughty.

Our squirrels have given us a class in gardening too so we do appreciate their presence in our lives and yard.

View video of squirrel eating apple.

This article from Creation Moments shows of their intelligence also.

Smart Squirrels

Squirrels often seem to run about without any purpose. However, a naturalist in the State of Maine recently discovered that the squirrel's activities are well planned and efficient.

It was a cold January day when the naturalist was watching a red squirrel who seemed to be nibbling on a sugar maple. Then the squirrel would run to a tree where some of the sap had leaked out and lap at it with his tongue. The naturalist knew that conventional wisdom said it was too early to tap trees for sugar. He also knew that the sap from the trees is 98 percent water and could not provide enough energy to keep the squirrel going in cold weather. Becoming more curious, he decided to study the squirrels' activity in detail.

He discovered that the red squirrels were systematically tapping the sugar maples with a peculiar bite into the tree. Each bite went through the outer and inner bark and into the xylem where the sap runs. The squirrels were then allowing the running sap to dry until the sugar content was more than 55 percent. Not only were squirrels tapping just the maples, they only tapped them when the weather was right for the sap to run. The mad running up and down the trees actually followed a careful daily schedule of tree visitations that could include over 70 trees!

Could it be that humans learned from squirrels to tap sugar maples? Whatever the answer to that question, we know that it was the Creator Himself Who taught the squirrel the processing and use of this sugary winter treat.

References: Heinrich, Brendt. 1991. Nutcracker sweets. Natural History, Feb. p. 4.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Squirrels are geniuses. No matter what method I use to keep them off the bird feeder they win. A sure sign of their brilliance is that they look me in the eye, ignore me and proceed to steal it right in front of me. It's like they're sizing me up the way a fellow human would. I'm worried about them, I haven't seen any squirrels since Hurricane Irene hit. Not a single one.

Donna L. Watkins said...

Wildlife seems to scurry way ahead of the storms. Remember the tsunami in Thailand? All that awful destruction and no dead wildlife found. Elephants are used there for rides (as horses are used here). It was reported that they headed for the hills with people on them that were just on a scheduled ride.

I don't support the use of elephants in this way at ALL! But I was just using that as an example of how even captive elephants know when it's time to head out. They are much more in tune with the "rhythms" of the earth.

Before Hurricane Irene got to Virginia the birds were swarming the feeders and eating like it was their last day. We knew about the hurricane from weather reports, of course, but they didn't. Yet they were eating to have the strength to hang on through the storm I suppose.

We didn't get really heavy winds and I didn't see all the birds just disappear, so somehow they knew what they needed to do.

Thank you for sharing your tolerance of this little naughty critter. I love them also even though they do frustrate me. I wouldn't want to live without them.

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