Why squirrels are nuts about acorns and acorns are nuts about squirrels
They are everywhere-dashing across the street, scurrying up the tree in front of the house, darting across the path in front of me as I casually walk through the woods. Usually they have a nut in their mouth-a black walnut or an acorn. As I sat at our outdoor table last week, one raced past me, carrying a large green tomato from our patio tomato plant!
What are they? Squirrels, of course. Those frenzied, hyperactive hoarders of autumn’s crop of tree seeds.
During the fall, squirrels are busy eating as much as possible to build up their fat reserves for winter. At the same time, they are busy storing their winter food supply. They stockpile nuts and seeds by burying them in different locations, building up their cache for when the snowy, freezing weather of winter arrives, when all the trees are dormant and food is scarce.
If trees could talk, what would their thoughts be on this behavior? It turns out that the next generation of oak trees depends on squirrels behaving the way they do.
Acorns are how oak trees reproduce. Just like we parents don’t want our children growing up right under our feet all the time, mature oak trees can’t have their young all growing underneath them. There would be too much competition for the necessities of life like water, air, space and sunlight. Oak trees, like other plants, can’t move about on their own. They can’t walk through the forest and spread their acorns around. How do the acorns get away from the parent tree?
Some acorns are carried away by gravity or water. But oak trees also depend on the frantic, hoarding behavior of the squirrel to help.
How do you think squirrels help oak trees?
How do you think oak trees help squirrels?
Read Friday’s post to find out more about the relationship between oaks, squirrels and acorns.
All photographs are courtesy of Pixabay.com