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Squirrel is a human twin in behavior See evidence

 

Squirrel is a human twin in behavior See evidence

While psychologists and behavioral scientists have acknowledged that humans have different types of personality, defined as behavior that is consistent over time, those traits are not easily attributed to other animals.


This research, published Friday in Animal Behavior, first documents personality traits in golden ground squirrels, which are common throughout the western United States and parts of Canada.


According to scientists, including those from the University of California, Davis, ground squirrels have exhibited personality traits such as boldness, aggressiveness, activity level, and sociability. Scientists believe that these discoveries shed light on how animal personality affects its use of space, and may lead to better outcomes in wildlife conservation measures


While it "may not seem surprising" that squirrels have personalities, acknowledging the existence of environmental consequences for the animal's personality is "fairly early," the scientists said.


The study found that bolder and more aggressive squirrels tended to get more food or defend a larger area. However, their risky behavior can make them vulnerable to predation or accidents.

In a statement issued by the study's lead author, Jacqueline Alberti, "interpretation of personality in wildlife management may be particularly important when predicting responses of wildlife to new conditions, such as changes or habitat destruction due to human activity." It comes from a long-term study site, established more than 30 years ago at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. They also conducted a series of experiments on site over three summers to observe and identify the squirrels' personalities.

These experiments included a test to learn the behavior of squirrels in a new environment, and the experiment was a closed box with grid lines and holes.


In another experiment, squirrels were shown their own images in a mirror but did not know it was a reflection of their own.


As part of a different test, the scientists slowly approached the squirrels in the wild to see "how long they wait before they run away".


To test how the rodents behave when trapped, the squirrels were caught in a simple trap, unharmed, and then the researchers monitored their behavior for a short period of time.

These analyzes showed that the bolder squirrels had larger core areas in which to focus their activity, compared to the timid ones, the researchers said.


The study also showed that active and bolder squirrels moved faster under natural conditions. Aggressive, energetic, and more daring and social squirrels also gained greater access to roosts. The scientists explained that this access to roosts like rocks provides better vantage points for seeing and escaping predators.

While this type of squirrel is considered "antisocial", the study considered that "even within this non-social type, elements that tend to be relatively more social appear to have an advantage."


"Our data supports the character-based use of space and natural resources," the scientists wrote in the study.


"Animal personality is a difficult science, but if it makes you understand animals better, maybe people will be more interested in preserving them," Aliberti added.

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