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Duration:03:36
Uploaded:2018-02-27
Last sync:2019-12-04 09:50
Squirrels eat a lot of things that are pretty tricky to find in the winter, like nuts and berries. Luckily for them, they have lots of clever ways to store up food to last them through the cold parts of the year!

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SOURCES:
https://www.livescience.com/28182-squirrels.html
https://ssec.si.edu/stemvisions-blog/why-do-squirrels-bury-nuts-and-other-mysteries
http://www.discoverwildlife.com/british-wildlife/how-do-squirrels-find-their-nuts
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/11/nyregion/cuttings-now-it-can-be-told-all-about-squirrels-and-nuts.html
http://jacobs.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Animal-Behaviour-1991-Jacobs.pdf
[Intro Music]

Hi everyone! What is it, Squeaks? You didn't say anything? Huh, I wonder what it is? Let's look at the Yard Cam. Oh, look! There's a squirrel digging in the yard. You know, she reminds me a lot of our friend, Ruffles the squirrel, and she sounds a little like you, Squeaks! Aw, I miss Ruffles too, buddy.

Ruffles is Squeaks' pen pal. She's an eastern gray squirrel who lives far away in Chicago, so they keep in touch by writing letters to each other. But, we haven't heard from her in a while, because it's been winter; and, when it's very cold, squirrels spend a lot of their time sleeping. The squirrel in our yard probably spent most of the last few months sleeping, too! That's because it's harder for squirrels to find food during the winter.

They eat lots of different things! Some of their meals come from plants, like nuts and fruits, and they'll also eat small animals like insects. But, there aren't many nuts or fruits around in the winter, and insects spend most of it in a type of deep sleep; so, there aren't a lot of them around, either. Since there's so little food for them to eat in the winter, squirrels save as much energy as they can by sleeping most of the time. They might only wake up once every few days!

They also spend a lot of time preparing for the winter by storing away some food beforehand. And, guess where they hide it! That's right: in the ground. It's like they create their own personal kitchen cabinets underground. That's probably why the squirrel in our yard was digging. She was looking for the extra food she buried before the winter started, maybe some delicious acorns.

It's not so easy for squirrels to remember where they put all their food, so they have a few tricks to help them know where to look. One trick is to dig it up every few days. That way, they can remind themselves where it is, and at the same time, they can check on it to make sure it's not spoiled. Their nose helps too! They can smell where there might be food buried underground, which helps them remember where they put it. Sometimes, they'll also sniff out food buried by other squirrels; they might even take some!

By slowly eating the food they've stored away, they're able to make it through the long, cold winter. They do sometimes forget where they've put some of their food. If a squirrel buries an acorn and doesn't dig it up again, it might start to grow into the type of tree that makes acorns: an oak tree. Eventually, oak trees can grow huge! A full-grown oak tree is about 25 meters or 82 feet. That's as tall as a building with eight floors! All from a tiny little acorn one squirrel buried and forgot about. 

But, now that it's almost spring, squirrels will soon be able to find lots of food again. Nuts and fruits will start growing on trees, and there will be more insects and other small animals around, too. Then, they won't have to spend so much of their time sleeping to save energy anymore. So, if Ruffles isn't awake yet, I bet she will be soon! How about we write her a letting to say good morning? Okay! I'll get the pencils and paper. Oh, good idea! I'll get some crayons, too. We can draw her lots of pictures of what we've been up to this winter.

Thanks for joining us! Do you have any more questions about animals? Or, maybe some art you'd like to send us? We'd love to see them! Just ask a grownup to help you leave a comment below, or send us an email to kids@scishow.com. Thanks, and we'll see you next time here at the fort.

[Outro Music]