Humans may be little late or unwilling to recycle some of the wastes which have are fast becoming health hazards but there are some species of animals who have already mastered this art. According to an article published in the latest edition of “Current Science”, squirrels in urban areas are using plastic waste as a building material for their nests. Dr. Mewa Singh and K Mohanat the Bio-psychology Laboratory and Institute of Excellence, University of Mysore, have made this observation in female palm squirrels in Mysuru. They have published their observation as an article in the journal.
According to the authors of the article, “The type of nest, the materials used and the architectural design provide important
insights into the life of a species.” Indian palm squirrels (Funambuluspalmarum) are using plastic bags, plastic threads and cigar butts along with natural materials in urban areas as nesting materials instead of leaves, twigs, shredded bark, mosses and other soft materials.
Reseearchers observed that female squirrel collected a long plastic sheet from a small dump yard. She then carefully checked the plastic material and tore it into the appropriate size and shape. Thereafter, she rolled the entire plastic material into her mouth and carried it to the nesting site where she spread the snipped pieces of plastic and built her nest.
Two more nests which were built using similar plastic material at the same location were also found. In another place, which was also located near a dump area, it was discovered that only one of the four nests on the tree was built completely with natural materials.
“The different materials used in nest construction reflect differences in their local availability. Although Indian palm squirrels usually build nests using natural materials, these squirrels appear to be adapting themselves to changes in habitat,” researchers observed.