Just like humans, many animals – from insects and rodents, to reptiles and wild cats – have developed clever ways to store their belongings. Here are just a few animals that have developed smart ways to store their food.
A crocodile’s diet typically consists of fish, birds, frogs, crustaceans, rodents and small animals. Bigger crocodiles may also catch large prey, such as cows, horses and even buffalo.
However, a crocodile’s stomach is only as big as a basketball. So while crocodiles may have the ability to take down prey larger than themselves, they often can’t eat it all at once. As a result, crocodiles store excess food in mangroves or under the water. Although the food may rot over time, rotten food is better than no food to a croc.
Leafcutter ants live in tropical regions, in massive colonies of up to 5 million members. These fascinating insects use fresh leaves to cultivate a fungus, which is then used to feed the colony.
The ants and the fungus have a symbiotic relationship. To farm their fungus, the ants cut sections of leaves from trees and transport these back to their nest, where the clippings are stored in an underground chamber. The leaves are used to cultivate an underground fungus garden, which the ants fertilise with their faeces.
A mole’s diet consists primarily of earthworms. Once a mole catches an earthworm, it will bite the worm’s head segment, immobilising it with a toxin in its saliva. This allows the mole to store the live earthworm for later consumption.
Moles will cache worms before cold weather – when the ground becomes frozen – storing their prey in mounds, in the walls of tunnels and in chambers at the ends of these tunnels.
Amazingly, moles have been known to store over a thousand earthworms in their underground lairs.
Foxes are opportunistic creatures, eating a varied diet of both plants and small creatures. They may store excess prey temporarily – often for only a day or so. They may keep their stash in their dens or buried under leaves, dirt or snow. They also use tree cavities or find room under buildings.
Leopards often store their prey in the forks of large trees, out of the reach of other predators – like lions and hyenas – that are less expert at climbing.
The leopard will grab its kill by the neck and drag it up the tree trunk, often carrying a carcass equal in weight to its own body, without trouble. The leopard will then revisit the carcass to feed over a period of several days.
Shrikes are small birds that consume a diet of insects and small vertebrates. You may know this carnivorous bird by its nickname – “butcherbird” – a moniker that it has earned due to its habit of impaling its prey on thorns, branches, wire fences and other sharp objects.
This macabre practice not only makes it easier for the shrike to tear off small pieces of its prey’s flesh for consumption but also functions as a cache so that the shrike can return to consume uneaten portions at a later time.
The beaver, North America’s largest rodent, lives in a dwelling built from sticks, rocks and mud, usually surrounded entirely by water. In cold climates, beavers will stockpile fresh woody and aquatic vegetation underwater in anticipation of winter.
With the lake frozen over, rendering the beaver unable to get to land and gather fresh food, it swims beneath the ice to access its underwater food store.
Honey bees gather nectar from plants and trees, and store it in honeycomb as a source of food for the colony. Bees collect nectar from blossoms using their tongues, and then hold it in their honey stomach – different to their food stomach – until they return to the hive.
In the hive, a number of worker bees chew the nectar until it turns into honey. The bees will then store the honey in honeycomb cells made of wax, sealing each cell with a lid of wax to keep the honey clean.
Acorn woodpeckers, so named because acorns are their primary source of food, store surplus food in dead tree limbs and trunks in and around their territory.
A woodpecker uses its sharp beak to drill into the wood. It then jams an acorn into this shallow hole, hammering it in so tightly that it is almost impossible for other acorn-eating animals to retrieve. Remarkably, acorn woodpecker colonies will use the same tree for storage over generations.
Acorn woodpeckers have been known to store up to 50 000 acorns in a single dead tree at one time.
Self storage with XtraSpace
At XtraSpace, we don’t specialise in storing food, but we think our approach to storage is pretty clever too. Across the country, our clean, secure storage units provide ideal storage for people’s personal and business items. The units are available in a wide range of sizes and for flexible lease periods.
Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.