Nature Notes

Vol. XI January, 1933 No. 1

Animal Intelligence

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels were very abundant about the Community House in Paradise Valley last summer. Along with the Chipmunk and the Clark's Crow they furnish park visitors hours of amusement in feeding them - to the mutual advantage of both.

Because the Ground Squirrel is larger and bolder than his rivals for the food that is forthcoming at all times this fellow gets the lion's share of attention. He is also possessed of larger cheek pouches than his smaller relative, the Chipmunk, and this, too aids him in accumulating greater quantities of the good things that are passed out. Peanuts are the usual staple that visitors offer and in packing these into his cheek pouches the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel usually goes through a well defined process that seldom varies. He assumes an upright position and rolls the peanut about in his mouth with the fore paws until it is cleaned of all the husk and then it is further rolled about to thoroughly moisten its surface before being finally broken up and stored in the pouches. Often, when the animal seems to have disposed of it, he will repeat the moistening process until it is in proper shape to place in the cheek pouches.

Recently the tourists gave one of these interesting animals a hard shelled hazel nut. The same performance as in handeling the customary peanut was observed. Over and over again the nut was rolled and moistened. Then it would disappear into the cheek pouches only to reappear in a moment so that the process could be repeated. Perseverance was the animal's chief virtue and finally the had nut was discarded when shelled peanuts were again offered the squirrel.

Most animal activities are like those of the squirrel -- being motivated by past experiences. Bears and squirrels particularly seem to have a one track mind with food and safety being the chief main spring of activity. And in the case of persistence the bear seems to have the edge for it takes the proverbial brick wall to make him change his mind once he attempts to accomplish a given objective.

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