Friday 12 October 2012

From Little Acorns Grow Oak Forests

What happens to the acorns that squirrels bury each autumn?  I googled the question and received an interesting answer.  Gray squirrels store but fail to retrieve up to 74% of the acorns.  This leads to the regeneration and dispersal of oak trees.  Tree squirrels bury hundreds of acorns in the ground, essentially planting baby oaks.  Acorns are one of the squirrels favourite nuts as they are easy to open and can be eaten in less than half the time of harder nuts.  Squirrels prefer the white oak variety rather than the red oak.  They devour the former immediately 85% of the time whereas they store the latter 60% of the time.  They pry the cap off the red variety, eat half of it and then throw them away.  Scientists suspect this is because the red oak acorns contain more tannins, something the squirrel does not like.  Red oaks usually sprout in the Spring while white oaks sprout in the Fall.  Scientists agree that squirrels play a big role in the growth of oak forests.



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