You might think that your cat or dog shares a large part of your personality, but there may be another fluffy animal near you that acts more like you – the squirrel, according to new research.
A team of researchers from the University of California at Davis announced that squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, and that these traits are essential to their survival and lifespan. The researchers published their findings in the journal Animal Behavior on Friday.
The study, which the group said is the first to document the personality of golden mantis ground squirrels commonly found in the western United States and Canada, showed the animals had four different traits. : audacity, aggressiveness, sociability and level of activity.
The researchers say the findings show how personality influences an animal’s use of space in nature.
“This is in addition to the small but growing number of studies showing that people matter,” senior author and UC Davis wildlife ecologist Jaclyn Aliperti said in a statement. “Consideration of personality in wildlife management can be particularly important when predicting wildlife responses to new conditions, such as habitat change or destruction due to human activity. . “
To uncover the personalities of squirrels, the researchers observed them for more than three years in situations such as being placed in a closed box with lines and holes, how they reacted to mirror images of themselves and to what speed they fled when they were approached.
Each of the traits showed just how drastic a squirrel’s life is. Bold and aggressive squirrels were able to move faster, find food, and protect their territory, but this made them more likely to become prey, as they are typically hunted by coyotes, foxes, and hawks, among other animals.
The activity level trait was found to be useful for squirrels with access to perches such as rocks, as being on one of them helped them identify nearby predators.
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However, the trait that seemed to be the biggest survival factor was sociability. Golden-mantled ground squirrels are generally anti-social, which means they often try to avoid social interactions.
Still, some of the squirrels bonded with others, as the study noted that “individuals who tend to be relatively more social appear to have an advantage.” The benefits included access to greater resources and the ability to reproduce.
Aliperti added that his research has given him a different perspective on squirrels and hopes their similarity to humans will one day be a factor in preserving wildlife.
“I think of them as, ‘Who are you? Where are you going ? What do you do ? “Versus at the species level,” she said. “Animal personality is a hard science, but if it allows you to relate more to animals, maybe people will be more interested in keeping them.”
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @ jordan_mendoza5.