UniquePetsWiki is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

Why Do Squirrels Bury Nuts? Do They Remember Where Did They Bury?

‘Why do squirrels bury nuts’ is another interesting article you would read on our site. It’s full of fun and interesting facts you would love to know.

Have you ever seen a squirrel burying its nuts? If yes, did you question why a squirrel would bury its nuts? Most people have heard specific facts about squirrels but still are unsure of how truthful the information is.

It may be interesting to know if squirrels bury their nuts and why they do so. Squirrels are fascinating animals. Apart from being interesting, squirrels are also quite adorable. That add up to the reasons for having an interest in a squirrel.

Continue to read this article to understand if a squirrel buries nuts and why it would choose to do so. Apart from understanding the facts, you get to know why it all happens the way it does.

Why Do Squirrels Bury Nuts?

Before deciphering the question ‘why do squirrels bury nuts?’, let’s understand and establish the fact, if squirrels do bury nuts?

It is a fact that squirrels bury nuts. Squirrels are no doubt intelligent animals. You will quickly observe a squirrel burying nuts in preparation for scarce food supply—Squirrels bury nuts to prepare for harsh weather conditions. How wise of them?

During the cold weather, food for squirrels is scarce. As a result, squirrels tend to bury nuts when they are in plenty to prepare for the next season when food will be hard to come across.

It is interesting to learn about such a fact. How can a small animal prepare for an unforeseen event? Like all other animals, squirrels act on instincts. Squirrels start to bury nuts when preparing for the next season.

During cold seasons, trees tend to lose their leaves which results in low or no nut produce. Squirrels must, therefore, utilize good seasons to store for the future. Once buried, the nuts will serve an essential role during scarcity. 

why do squirrels bury nuts is because of scarcity during winter
A squirrel stashing some nuts for the winter

Do All Squirrels Bury Nuts?

It is now apparent that squirrels bury nuts in preparation for winter—however, there are different kinds of squirrels that display distinct characteristics. You can, therefore, wonder if all squirrels bury nuts in preparation for winter.

Not all squirrels will bury nuts. Each squirrel has its strategy of storing nuts. The best example of squirrels that will bury nuts is the grey squirrel. You can easily find a grey squirrel burying nuts within your compound.

Grey squirrels tend to bury their nuts due to competition. Grey squirrels face heavy competition from other squirrels and birds, making it necessary to hide the nuts underground where it is only known to them.

However, when it comes to red squirrels, no burying is carried out. Red squirrels tend to pile up cones at the center of their territory. Red squirrels do not have the problem of competition faced by grey squirrels

Red squirrels have a defined territory that keeps other squirrels away, reducing competition for their piled nuts. Grey squirrels also pile up their cones, intending to keep them dry. Piling nuts keeps them dry to prevent germination.

Do Squirrels Ever Find the Nuts They Bury?

This is an important factor to worry about. If these little creatures can be so wise to store up food for the winter, do they usually remember where they store up the nuts?

The answer is yes, they do. If they usually tend to forget where they bury the nuts, they wouldn’t have a habit of burying them in the first place.

In the wild, once the leaves begin to wither away, you can see a squirrel scampering around burying nuts. This behavior in squirrels signifies that winter is about to start.

The nut burring process may seem like a random characteristic to many people, however, the opposite is usually the case. Squirrels do not bury nuts in random. That is why it’s easy for them to spot and remember where they buried the buts.

A squirrel never buries nuts randomly since it has to remember the same spot when the need arises. 

Most squirrels tend to scatter their nuts because it is much easier to lose a few nuts to other animals. Being an intelligent mammal, squirrels know that other animals can discover some of their stashes. 

It is, therefore, necessary to lose fewer nuts than all of them if they were buried in one location. Back to the main plan, will a squirrel find nuts it has buried in the future? The answer is yes.

Since squirrels bury their nuts strategically, they can locate them during winter. Did you know that squirrels can recover up to 95% of their buried nuts? Quite impressive for such a small animal, right?

A squirrel burying nuts against the winter [source: TamesideCitizen]

How Do Squirrels Find Nuts Buried Before? 

Now that you are aware that squirrels can find their buried nuts, you may wonder how that is even possible. Do squirrels use a particular technique that makes it easy for them to remember their buried food?

Most people will assume that squirrels can find their buried nuts through the sense of smell. Although that may not be entirely false, it may not be helpful where snow has covered the ground. 

The central aspect that makes it possible to remember nuts buried is memory. Squirrels have a good memory that plays an essential role in retrieving buried nuts. Squirrels are also strategic when burying their nuts.

That means that a squirrel will first identify a specific landscape that will facilitate easier recall of the buried nuts. A squirrel maps out its territory and identifies good places to bury its nuts. 

A squirrel will gauge how far a tree is from where nuts are buried. That will play an important part when remembering the buried nuts. Squirrels are brilliant animals making it possible to remember any buried stash.

Do Squirrels Sort Nuts Before Burying Them?

A squirrel gathering nuts against winter
A squirrel gathering nuts against winter

Do squirrels bury any nut they come across without considering what it is? Most people assume that squirrels bury whatever nuts they come across randomly across their territory without any form of sorting first.

However, that would not be entirely true. Squirrels do actually organize their nuts before burying them. The nuts are buried based on their type, size, and taste. This is a technique known as spatial chunking.

Spatial chunking is a fundamental technique that helps squirrels to know where to find where they bury nuts during winter. It also makes it easier for a squirrel to memorize where it can get specific nuts within its territory.

Take the example of a library. It is easy to find a book because each book is arranged according to its category. The same applies when a squirrel buries nuts based on the type, size, and taste.

Squirrels will put specific nuts in the same place since it will aid in memorizing which nut is in which location. It is much easier to recall a given stash if specific nuts are put in that location.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, it is safe to say that squirrels bury nuts in preparation for winter. During winter, food is scarce for squirrels making it necessary to have a hidden stash. Burying nuts is one good way of having a steady food supply.

Also, squirrels will bury nuts in different locations to reduce the chances of losing all their stash at a go should other animals discover the stash. It is easier to have many hoards buried in various places so that squirrels can locate some of them even if another animal steals others.

Also, thanks to having a good memory, you can expect a squirrel to remember all buried nuts in the future. Squirrels never bury nuts randomly but strategically since they will need all the nuts they can get during winter.

About UniquePetsWiki

UniquePetsWiki is the preferred educational source on pets favored by experienced herptologists and new owners alike. With hundreds of articles on everything pertaining to pets including reptiles, squirrels, and other pets, our experienced team provides reliable and accurate content you can trust.

From proper husbandry and habitat guidance, to articles on health concerns, diet, and extensive care guides, UniquePetsWiki is here to educate everyone on all pets concerns.


UniquePetsWiki is not a veterinary website, nor should any of the reptile health information on our site replace the advice of a certified veterinary professional. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, contact an experienced veterinarian immediately.

UniquePetsWiki is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.