A team led by biologist Cory Williams of Northern Arizona University examined the behavioral differences of male and female Arctic squirrels in Alaska. Published in Royal Society Open Science, their work found that female squirrels tend to spend less time above ground finding food, probably because they have to care for their offspring in nests underground. When they aren’t underground, though, they’re more active than their male counterparts.
Arctic squirrels spend much of their time hibernating from the end of the summer to late spring in order to survive the cold winter months. During the few months above ground, they have a hefty to-do list: They have to eat to replenish energy stores lost to hibernation, store energy for next season, and mate.
During the time when they are not hibernating, female squirrels not only have to consume enough to keep themselves going, they have to produce enough energy to gestate and produce milk for their babies during the first few summer months of the active season. When they’re not foraging for food, they’re in the nest caring for their young. This means that when they are active, they’re busy—much more so than their male counterparts.
“It is not clear what [the males] are doing while above ground,” the authors write. “The additional time spent above ground may be simply to loaf/bask in the sun.”
read more: qz.com/798926/scientists-gave-squirrels-fitness-trackers-and-found-that-males-are-lazy-and-females-do-all-the-work/
article: Katherine Ellen Foley
photo: Reuters/Mike Hutchings