We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update!

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update!

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update! The following post was originally published on April 24, 2020.

Most of the time, animals seem to have an uncanny ability to tell when a camera is in focus and pointed at them, at which point they spring away and disappear. Every once in a while, though, you get lucky and a squirrel strikes a cool pose right in front of you (by the way, please direct all photography awards and corresponding massive cash prizes to Ben Williams c/o The Virginia Museum of Natural History).

At any rate, Sciurus carolinensis, better known as the eastern gray squirrel, is a pretty common sight in southwest Virginia. If you have bird feeders, it may be too common of a sight. However you feel about them, though, squirrels are remarkable animals. We've all seen squirrels burying nuts and seeds for later retrieval; sometimes their secret food caches are temporary, and the squirrel will come back later to grab their meal and re-bury it in a more secure location. Believe it or not, a single squirrel is estimated to make several THOUSAND food caches per season! Even more amazingly, they have a terrific memory when it comes to remembering the locations of these caches, and they use landmarks and their sense of smell to find them again.

What's even more impressive is that if a squirrel feels like it's being watched by another animal that might like to dig up its snack, it will actually pull a fake-out. It will dig a hole, pretend to bury its food (which remains hidden in its mouth), and then fill the empty hole back in. For an animal with a brain that weighs about as much as a quarter, that's pretty impressive!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.

You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.

NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONSIf you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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