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Wild Animals

Study: Male Squirrels Don't Help Females Do Anything, Really

Philip Childs/Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

You know those television commercials that portray husbands as barely human clods, unable to perform even the simplest of tasks without making an unholy mess and then their disproportionately attractive wife just shakes her head and laughs and then ostensibly goes off and buys the product that will fix said unholy mess?

It turns out that that’s just a portrait of most squirrel marriages.

A new study by Northern Arizona University has found that the division of labor in the average squirrel household is, well, shameful.

Fifty Arctic squirrels in Alaska were outfitted with fitness collars to determine why male rodents were more likely to be eaten by predators.

The researchers found that females do more work caring for offspring, foraging and storing nuts. The females spend three to six fewer hours above ground than males — presumably because they spend time underground caring for young — and when they were above ground, they were more active than their male counterparts.

“It is not clear what [the males] are doing while above ground,” the authors write. “The additional time spent above ground may be simply to loaf/bask in the sun.”

Females have to spend more time foraging because they not only have to find enough food to keep themselves going, but also to produce enough energy to gestate and produce milk for their babies. Males, meanwhile … well, they’re deadbeats. Two years of study confirmed this. Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of the entire female population of Arctic squirrels shaking their heads, shocked that humans have just now discovered this.

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