Squirrels are common in most parts of North America, and you’ve probably seen plenty of them playing around in your yard before. You might even notice that squirrels seem to go around burying nuts everywhere for some reason.
It might seem kind of annoying to have squirrels digging everywhere, but this is just a common behavior that they do. If you’re wondering why squirrels bother to do this, then you certainly aren’t alone.
Many people aren’t entirely sure why squirrels bury nuts and other things, but they’re curious about it. Keep reading to learn exactly why squirrels are burying nuts around your yard and other places that they like to go.
Squirrels Start Burying Nuts When It Gets Colder
A squirrel is going to start burying nuts once it begins to feel the weather getting cooler. Generally, squirrels will store their nuts someplace safe during the winter so that they can come back and eat those nuts at a later time.
Cold weather is going to have an impact on the types of food that will be available to squirrels. Some types of food that squirrels love to forage will be more difficult to come by during the winter, and this causes squirrels to want to stock up while they can.
Squirrels will find convenient spots to bury nuts that they can return to when they’re feeling hungry. You’ll notice squirrels burying nuts in all sorts of different places, too.
The squirrels understand that it isn’t wise to bury all of the nuts in one spot because that spot could become compromised. They’re intelligent enough to spread things out so that they won’t be likely to lose their entire stash for one reason or another.
Some Squirrels Sleep During the Winter
Some squirrels are going to sleep during the winter, but not all squirrels hibernate. Certain types of squirrels will sleep for long periods of time during the winter, but others will be awake during the winter.
You might have heard some people say that squirrels store food in their dens to snack on during the winter. This is actually a misconception because that isn’t really how squirrels do things.
They utilize the burying method mentioned above, and they have to remember where they buried all of the nuts and other things that they have found to stash away for the winter. It’s actually very impressive that squirrels are able to do this because it wouldn’t be easy to remember all of that information.
Squirrels are intelligent enough to recognize that food will be scarce during the winter, and they have advanced memory capabilities that allow them to recall where they buried things. The winter months are tough for squirrels, and this is why they must prepare so much during the autumn.
You’ll see squirrels working to find as much food as they’re able to during the autumn. They have to keep themselves fed during this time while also finding food that will act as their lifeline during the harsh winter months.
If you think about how hard the squirrels work to survive, then it becomes easier to appreciate them. These creatures are truly remarkable in many ways.
Why Do Squirrels Bury Their Nuts?
Even knowing the above information doesn’t completely answer the question of why squirrels bury their nuts. They could just as easily stash the nuts somewhere above ground, couldn’t they?
While it’s true that squirrels could try to stash nuts and other types of food above the ground, it’s also true that they’re in competition with other squirrels. Squirrels will steal from each other so that they can have a better chance of survival.
It isn’t uncommon at all for squirrels to take nuts or other foods from other squirrels. In fact, burying nuts isn’t even a guarantee that another squirrel won’t take things.
Squirrels can find the buried nuts that other squirrels have worked so hard for. Sometimes these squirrel thieves will get away with it, but squirrels are quite clever and have defenses against such things.
When squirrels recognize that there are thieves around, they’ll start to use deception to their advantage. They will sometimes create false caches of nuts in the ground that don’t actually contain anything.
A squirrel is clever enough to be able to make it look like the ground has been dug up and nuts might be somewhere in the dirt. This can trick the thieving squirrels so that they can protect the actual location of the nuts.
Before reading this, you might not have thought that squirrels would have such advanced thoughts. They’re capable of being tricky, and they display intelligence that is beyond what most people would think a small animal like this could possess.
Squirrels might not be an intelligent species by definition, but it’s hard not to admire the clever tricks they’re able to use. They will even start burying nuts in places that are hard to reach if things are really bad with thieves in a certain area.
You might find a squirrel will start burying nuts under bushes or in muddy areas. It’s very interesting how good they are at hiding things.
How Do Squirrels Remember Where They Buried the Nuts?
It isn’t completely understood how squirrels are able to remember where they buried the nuts. This does suggest that squirrels have advanced memory capabilities in some ways, though.
Not only do squirrels remember where they put their nuts despite burying nuts in so many places, but they also remember the types of nuts that they buried. Squirrels prioritize nuts based on things such as nutritional value and overall taste.
Squirrels will often try to hide the most valuable nuts that they have in places that aren’t in danger of having the nuts stolen by other squirrels. They’d rather have nuts be placed in risky areas where predators might lurk than they would in areas where other squirrels will steal from them.
They somehow keep all of these nut caches distinct in their heads and are able to know to return to them at some point in time when they need food. It’s amazing how they do this, but giving a technical answer for this question as to how they do it isn’t possible.
People study squirrels and they still don’t understand every single thing about them. Humans know a lot about squirrels, but exactly how they remember things remains a mystery at this point in time.
Now that you know more about how squirrels operate, it’s likely that you have a greater appreciation for them. These little animals work super hard to ensure that they have enough food to survive the winter, and burying nuts is related to getting through the winter months.
It’s also the case that squirrels feel the need to bury nuts to protect their food from other squirrels that might try to steal from them. Sometimes they even have to use deception to try to keep thieves at bay, and that’s just astounding to think about.
Squirrels are capable of a lot more than people realize, and the fact that they can remember where they put all of the nuts that they buried is something else. Many humans have trouble remembering where they put their car keys, but squirrels are able to find nuts that have been buried in diverse locations.
Hopefully, all of your burning questions about squirrels and why they bury nuts have been answered now. Not everything is known about squirrels and how they do certain things, but you should have a better basic understanding of this process now.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.