A recent study has shown that squirrels eating a large item of food are more vigilant, keeping an sharper eye out for predators than squirrels nibbling on tiny bits. Now, before you say “what an appalling waste of American taxpayer money!,” please realize two things:
1) The study was done in Canada.
2) Understanding animal behavior is crucial to protecting the environment.
The researchers note that humans have a tendency to change habitats as we move into them. Some of those changes may make an animal feel threatened when it is not – or feel protected when it is actually vulnerable. Inappropriate behavior can lead to declining populations, upsetting the whole ecosystem.
So, be careful where you spread your birdseed. A squirrel’s life could depend on it.
Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Predatory Dinosaurs of the World” by Gregory S. Paul that details the traits and behaviors of carnivorous dinosaurs throughout the Mesozoic Era. Of course, since most dinosaurs (except birds) have been extinct for 65 million years, the theories in the book derive mainly from clues left in the fossil record. However, a lot can also deduced from studying and comparing the behaviors of present day predators and prey. It’s easy to surmise that not much in that arena has really changed over time.
Which brings me to this amazing piece of video I stumbled upon on YouTube. It was taken at South Africa's Kruger National Park by tourist David Budzinski, and is a great example of predator-prey behavior! This one even has a couple surprises which I wasn't expecting. I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.