It's amazing to watch a squirrel leap from tree to tree, run across a power line with acrobat-like balance or climb a tree with unbelievable speed but above all of these, the one thing that still amazes me is how they find buried nuts weeks after hiding it. Let's examine how this process works and get a better understanding of this amazing creature.
Squirrels select, store and locate nuts in very specific ways. They eat a variety of hard nuts including: Walnuts, Beechnuts, Acorns and Hickory. But squirrels are selective on what nuts to eat and what nuts to store away.
For example, Squirrel seem know that the Acorns from a White Oak are sweeter and mature much sooner that the Acorns from the Red Oak tree. They will eat the Acorns from the White Oak right away because they instinctively know that a buried White Oak Acorn will likely begin to sprout before they dig it up and it will no longer be edible. However; they seem to know that the Red Acorns, that taste bitter when fresh, have a high level of a specific chemical that preserves it and makes it much more suitable for storing for long amounts of time and with time, the bitterness fades away.
Squirrels usually bury their nuts one-by-one all over the area they claim as their territory. This process is called "Scatter Hoarding". This process helps reduce the chances of another animal locating their entire food supply and eating it. By placing them in different locations they are almost guaranteed to have some food remaining even if another animal located some of it.
After scatter hoarding a large amount of nuts, how do the squirrels locate them? According to a number of scientific studies, squirrels use a combination of both memory and smell to locate their stash. They will use spatial and visual clues to help them zero in on a location they have hidden some food then they employ their keen sense of smell to pinpoint the exact locations to dig once they are in a targeted area.
You may see a squirrel rubbing a nut on its face before burying it, this process applies a sent that squirrels can use later to find the nut under several inches of dirt.
With a better understanding of how squirrel acts in regards to squirrel feeding habits and food management, you may be able to employ a few squirrel hunting tactics to find squirrel faster, in greater supply and more often.