Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Are squirrels getting smarter? What’s going on here?

Yesterday morning, while walking through the Boston Common on my way to an even more pathetic workout than usual – the gym has (unbelievably) little by way of AC and it wnutsas sweltering; I was exhausted by having spent 13 hours straight on Sunday doing some more packing up so the house would be ready for the looming reno – I came across this odd little sight.

At first, I walked on by. Then I doubled back to take a picture.

Despite the excellence of my smartphone shot – I really am getting to be something of a Margaret Bourke-White – if you can’t figure out what this is, it’s a Styrofoam takeout container filled with acorns.

My initial thought was that squirrels are getting more advanced, evolutionary-wise, and if they haven’t exactly grown opposable thumbs, they’ve started using tools, in this case, a handy carrying container that perhaps lets them gather nuts more efficiently.

And then I thought, nah.

After all, having efficiently gathered so many nuts, they were going to have an impossible time lugging their trove to the acorn burial ground.

Perhaps it was someone up to no good. Maybe this acorn treasure chest was poisoned by someone who’d had it with poisoning the pigeons in the park, and was now going after the squirrels. But who would do such a thing? Sure, squirrels are rodents, but if you’re going to come after rodents, why not choose rats? You could leave anything out for them, and you wouldn’t have to go through the pain of bending down and picking up all these stray acorns.

So I was left with the thought that this was probably some do-gooder, trying to help our furry friends out by doing some of their work for them.

Maybe they were worried that, if we had another winter like last year’s, the local squirrels would be needing a boost.

But even a bleeding heart die-hard like me has a hard time coming up with a rationale for the creation of the acorn bonanza.

Aren’t squirrels industrious and prudent? Don’t we want to encourage this behavior, not undermine it?

For some reason, I’m thinking ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; give a man a fishing pole, and he’s set for life.’

Only this is the reverse.

Anyway, inquiring minds – at least this one – want to know what’s up with this bit of nuttiness.

Maybe it’s performance art. Maybe there’s a YouTube out there already showing the reactions of passers-by. (I am not the zaftig woman in the pink shirt and workout pants. Not me at all.)
And maybe, just maybe, it’s as I originally surmised: squirrels are getting smarter.

No comments: