It’s the season when squirrels are doing their acorn dash and stash. Once the squirrel finds an acorn, he chooses to eat it right away, bury it, or take it home. A squirrel must eat 21 pounds of food a week to stay alive. So, the squirrel’s frenzied quest for acorns is a necessary endeavor.
Red or White
Grey squirrels hunt for nuts from both the red and white oak. But, they prefer to eat an acorn from the white oak. The red oak acorn contains tannin, which is bitter tasting. Tannin is a chemical in the red acorn that protects it against insects and rotting underground. The tannin also discourages other animals from eating them. Squirrels eat 85 percent of the white acorns they find and bury 60 percent of the red acorns for later foraging.
Where Did I put that acorn?
A squirrel will bury acorns within a 7-mile radius of his home. Squirrels have the ability to sometimes remember where they buried their acorns. If their memory fails, they can use their noses since they can smell the acorns. However, 74 percent of the time squirrels don’t recover their acorns. Acorns buried in the ground are also appetizing to raccoons, deer, red foxes, chipmunks and blue jays.
It’s Hard to Crack
Squirrels can dig through snow to recover their acorns, but they can’t break through ice. Spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels because their acorn stores start to run low. When a squirrel can’t find acorns to eat, your trashcan becomes his buffet.
Squirrels are an important part of our ecology. While they are storing acorns for nourishment they are also planting oak trees. The farmer squirrel is constantly replenishing his food source thus helping ensure survival for new generations of squirrels.