Savvy Squirrels Outwit Trees

SquirrelsLike good stock brokers, red squirrels predict when the market will be flooded with seeds and then invest big by producing a second litter of young, a new study finds.

"Lots of animals time their reproduction to match predictable increases in resources like the new growth of plants every spring," said lead researcher Stan Boutin of the University of Alberta. "But the interesting twist here is that these squirrels have figured out a way to produce this second litter of babies at a time when they have little food and before an ‘unpredictable’ boom in seed production.”

Somehow the squirrels could anticipate when the trees would be laden with cones, and only during these years they produced a second litter of young.
In addition to predicting the future, the squirrels were able to reproduce while females were breast-feeding the first litter—something that doesn't normally occur in mammals, said study team member Andrew McAdam of Michigan State. University.

Link & Image: LiveScience
Tags: | | |