Squirreling Away

Eastern gray squirrel eats an apple.

What is winter like where you live? Are you getting ready for colder weather? Have you pulled your sled out? What about your gloves and winter boots? Animals prepare for winter, too. 

Eastern gray squirrels find most of their food during warmer months. These squirrels are omnivores. They eat both plants and meat. Squirrels eat acorns, nuts, insects, and bird eggs. 

To prepare for winter, gray squirrels gain a lot of weight. They eat about a pound of food per week. That means they are eating almost their entire weight in food each week! 

Some squirrels hibernate, or sleep through the winter, but gray squirrels do not. In addition to gaining weight, gray squirrels must hide extra food during the warm months to eat when it is cold. Some squirrels gather three years’ worth of food to prepare for winter! 

Gray squirrels are scatter hoarders. This means they hide their food in many different locations. Squirrels must remember where they hide each piece of food for months at a time. They have excellent memories. Sometimes squirrels even pretend to bury food to trick other animals and keep their stash safe. 

What do you think? The phrase “to squirrel away” means to save something to use in the future. How does this phrase relate to what you learned about gray squirrels? 

Photo Credit: ©Rob Shennan/Alamy