Squirrels are better than people when it comes to decision-making.
They’re rational and consistent, even though they may appear somewhat haphazard when playing in traffic. (I said they were rational as consumers; I didn’t say they are geniuses.)
Unlike squirrels, human consumers vary their tastes and preferences, plus individuals are fickle and inconsistent, even internally. Case in point: chocolate is my favorite, but today I want vanilla.
Chocolate is still my favorite but let me see both options side by side … hmmm, I don’t know which one I want right now.
My favorite is available — it’s right there. And like I mentioned … it is my favorite, but what is that new, unknown flavor right there? Should I try that instead?
Squirrels, in contrast, are consistent; we failed to measure heterogeneity in consumer tastes/preferences among squirrels during our studies.
They did, at times, select different things, but they were the correct things for that squirrel in that time and place, and they didn’t vary across squirrels.
Squirrels are unbelievably consistent ‘shoppers’ for food; in fact, they shop properly for eating versus storing (caching) and for the time of year.
What Are Squirrels Good For? 5 Surprising Benefits
1. Squirrels Plant Forests
Squirrels are master gardeners and plant trees throughout forests when they bury nuts and seeds.
Tree squirrels and flying squirrels hoard nuts and seeds for winter by burying them. Many are eaten, but the ones that are forgotten can germinate and grow into trees.
This way, squirrels help regenerate forests and even enlarge a forested area.
Numerous studies confirm squirrels’ positive effect on seed dispersal and forest regeneration. One study found that squirrels’ gardening efforts also have a positive effect on the increase of habitat quality for wild birds.
As trees purify our air, remove carbon dioxide, and mitigate harmful effects of climate change, squirrels are helping save our planet.
2. Squirrels Help Trees Grow
Squirrels not only plant trees. They help trees thrive by eating fungi that help trees and dispersing the spores in their scat.
3. Squirrels Are A Food Source
Badgers, bobcats, foxes, birds of prey, snakes, and weasels are just a few of the predators that rely on squirrels as a source of food.
Squirrels are a source of food for many carnivores and omnivores. And it’s not only animals that eat squirrels, but some people also hunt and eat squirrels.
4. Squirrels Inspire Medical Advancement
Not all squirrels hibernate, but those that do are inspiring new ways to treat traumatic injuries, prevent muscle loss in cancer patients and the elderly, and reduce brain damage caused by strokes.
5. Squirrels Inspire The Future of Robotics
Robotic engineers would like to make robots that can think as quickly and move with as much agility as squirrels do.