#SquirrelAppreciationDay: Portrait of a Gray Squirrel

Close-up of an Eastern Gray Squirrel's head; note the brownish fur on its face, the gray fur on its back and the white fur on its underside.

Credit: Don Freiday/USFWS Gray squirrel
Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the eastern gray squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for reburial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. Each squirrel is estimated to make several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used partly to uncover food caches, and also to find food in other squirrels' caches. Scent can be unreliable when the ground is too dry or covered in snow.

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