Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Squirrel Psychology: How Squirrels Learn From Others How To Steal Food

Date:
August 6, 2009
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
The ability of gray squirrels to learn from observing others is highlighted in a new study. The research shows how squirrels can quickly learn from watching their peers, particularly if it relates to stealing food. The research adds to growing evidence that animals are primed to learn quickly about what is most important to their survival and that they learn by observing others. It is the first study to test the ability of gray squirrels to learn from observation.

Grey squirrel watching. New research shows how squirrels can quickly learn from watching their peers, particularly if it relates to stealing food.
Credit: iStockphoto/James Figlar

The ability of gray squirrels to learn from observing others is highlighted in a new study. The research shows how squirrels can quickly learn from watching their peers, particularly if it relates to stealing food. The research adds to growing evidence that animals are primed to learn quickly about what is most important to their survival and that they learn by observing others. It is the first study to test the ability of gray squirrels to learn from observation.

The research team tested the squirrels' ability to learn to choose between two pots of food after watching another squirrel remove a nut from one of the pots. One group was rewarded for choosing the same pot as the previous squirrel, the second group was rewarded for targeting the other pot.

Those that were rewarded for choosing food from the other pot learned more quickly than those that were rewarded for choosing the same pot. This suggests that grey squirrels learn more quickly to recognise the absence of food.

The study was repeated, but instead of observing another squirrel, the animals were trained with the use of a card. In this test, the squirrels showed no significant difference in their ability to learn to choose the same or opposite pot.

The study suggests that squirrels are primed to recognise other squirrels as potential food thieves. It also shows that they learn more quickly from real life observations.

Corresponding author Dr Lisa Leaver of the University of Exeter, said: "Our study is significant because it is the first to show that grey squirrels learn from observing others. It adds to growing evidence that all kinds of animals, from humans and other primates to many species of birds, learn from observation and that they have evolved to learn quickly about those things that are most important to their lives – in the case of grey squirrels, gathering and storing nuts."

The research team now hopes to conduct further studies into the psychology of grey squirrels to learn more about how the animals learn from – and possibly deceive – one another.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Squirrel Psychology: How Squirrels Learn From Others How To Steal Food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728102303.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2009, August 6). Squirrel Psychology: How Squirrels Learn From Others How To Steal Food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728102303.htm
University of Exeter. "Squirrel Psychology: How Squirrels Learn From Others How To Steal Food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728102303.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

AFP (July 29, 2014) An infestation of rats is causing concern among tourists at Paris' most famous park -- the Tuileries garden next to the Louvre Museum. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins