Squirrels Prove It: Females Do All the Work, Guys Goof Off

Males appear to spend a lot of time basking in the sun: new study
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2016 9:02 AM CDT
Squirrels Prove It: Females Do All the Work, Guys Lay Around
An Indian palm squirrel eats a breadcrumb in a garden in Allahabad, India, Friday, July 8, 2016. Indian palm squirrels are also known as the three-striped squirrel due to the mix of dark and white stripes on the back and mostly found in parts of India and Sri Lanka.   (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Science has given tired women everywhere their I-told-you-so-moment, and it comes courtesy of the hapless Arctic ground squirrel: The males of the species appear to spend most of their non-hibernating months soaking up the rays above ground while the females are kept busy either nursing their young below ground or foraging for food when above. "It is not clear what [the males] are doing while above ground," the Northern Arizona University biologists write in an article headlined "The secret life of ground squirrels" in the journal Royal Society Open Science. "The additional time spent above ground may be simply to loaf/bask in the sun."

The researchers set out to learn how these squirrels spend their energy from one season to the next given they hibernate from late fall through early spring, reports Quartz, which notes the squirrels "have a hefty to-do list: They have to eat to replenish energy stores lost to hibernation, store energy for next season, and mate." They equipped 30 females and 18 males with tiny photosensitive collars and accelerometers to track their movement and their time above and below ground. The team found that the females are about as active as males when below ground, largely nursing their young, but considerably more active than the males when above ground—foraging for enough food to cover their considerable energy expenditure, not to mention enough for their offspring. (This woman was hit with a $2 million bill after boyfriend started a fire burning fur off a squirrel.)

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