By Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
You may think your cat or dog shares a lot of your personality, but there may be another fluffy animal near your home that acts more like you — squirrels, according to new research.
A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis announced squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, and those traits are key to their survival and life expectancy. The researchers published their findings in the journal Animal Behaviour on Friday.
The study, which the group says is the first to ever document personality in golden-mantled ground squirrels commonly found in western U.S. and Canada, showed the animals had four different traits: boldness, aggressiveness, sociability and activity level.
Researchers say the findings show how personality influences an animal’s use of space in the wild.
“This adds to the small but growing number of studies showing that individuals matter,” lead author and wildlife ecologist at UC Davis Jaclyn Aliperti said in a statement. “Accounting for personality in wildlife management may be especially important when predicting wildlife responses to new conditions, such as changes or destruction of habitat due to human activity.”
To find out about squirrel’s personalities, researchers observed them for over three years in situations like being placed in an enclosed box with lines and holes, how they reacted to mirror images of themselves and how quickly they would run away when approached.
Each of the traits showed how drastic the life of a squirrel is. Squirrels that were bold and aggressive were able to move faster, find food and protect their territory, yet it made them more likely to become prey, as they are commonly hunted by coyotes, foxes and hawks, among other animals.
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