That's NUTS! Where in the world do squirrels hide their nuts? And how in the world do they remember where to find them again? Join Mindy and Guy Raz as they get up close and personal with the organizational habits of SQUIRRELS! Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and Wow in the World, It's our nuttiest episode yet!
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That's NUTS!

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That's NUTS!

That's NUTS!

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Stay seated. Three, two one - ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportions.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We're on our way, Houston.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Almond, coconut, ham, chocolate, cow, rice, soy.

MINDY THOMAS, HOST:

Hey, Guy Raz. What are you doing in your refrigerator over here?

RAZ: Oh. Oh, hey, Mindy. I'm just organizing my milk collection.

THOMAS: Of course you are.

RAZ: Hey. It looks like you're holding a glass of something white and creamy. I bet I can guess what kind of milk that is. Here. Here. Let me take a sip.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRINKING LIQUID)

THOMAS: Wait. I...

(SOUNDBITE OF SPITTING LIQUID)

RAZ: Mindy, have you been drinking straight up butter?

THOMAS: Well, I mean, technically, it started off as a butter Popsicle on a stick...

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: But then it melted. So...

RAZ: That's just gross. A whole glass of melted butter?

THOMAS: Butter is back, Guy Raz. Besides, what do you want me to do? Wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning to squeeze the milk out of a bunch of almonds?

RAZ: That's what I do.

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: Well, wait. Actually, that's not what I do. Almond milk is made by just - oh, never mind.

THOMAS: Look. Coconut milk makes me hyper. Soy milk causes me to have headaches. And cow's milk gives me the toots. Here, I'll prove it to you.

RAZ: No. I'll take your word for it, Mindy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FARTS)

THOMAS: Too late. So what did you say you were doing with all these milks in here anyway?

RAZ: Well, I just thought I'd organize my supply in alphabetical order. Actually, I'm reorganizing my entire kitchen.

THOMAS: That's nuts.

RAZ: Oh. Oh. Well, speaking of nuts, check out my nut pantry.

THOMAS: Wait. What?

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR OPENING)

THOMAS: Oh my.

RAZ: Fifty-three different varieties of nuts, all labeled and organized by species, shape, color and personal preference. Check this out, Mindy. I've got almonds, beechnuts, butternuts, Brazil nuts, candlenut, cashews...

(SOUNDBITE OF ROOSTER CROWING)

RAZ: ...Walnuts and white nuts.

THOMAS: Wow. Woah, that's a lot of nuts.

RAZ: Yeah. Yeah. It is quite the collection, if I do say so myself.

THOMAS: Too bad you forgot the biggest nut of them all.

RAZ: Ah. The coconut. Well...

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: ...Loosely speaking, a coconut can be a fruit, a seed and a nut. So...

THOMAS: I'm not talking about a coconut.

RAZ: Then what are you talking about?

THOMAS: Me. I'm the biggest nut around.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: Go ahead. Knock on my head.

RAZ: Please, Mindy.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCK)

THOMAS: Now that's what you call a hard nutshell. So I'm just going to perch myself...

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: ...Right up here...

RAZ: ...Mindy...

THOMAS: ...On this shelf...

RAZ: ...No. No...

THOMAS: ...Right between the macadamias...

RAZ: ...Uh...

THOMAS: ...And the peanuts, if we're going by ABC order.

RAZ: That shelf is not meant to hold nuts heavier than...

(SOUNDBITE OF CRASHING PANTRY SHELVES)

THOMAS: Well, on the bright side, it looks like I just made you a lifetime supply of trail mix, Guy Raz.

RAZ: My beautiful collection of organic, prize-winning nuts.

THOMAS: Now they're mixed nuts.

RAZ: How will I ever get these organized again?

THOMAS: Oh. Wait. I know.

RAZ: Oh, no.

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: Oh, no, no, no. I think you've done enough, Mindy.

THOMAS: No, really. I know who can help.

RAZ: You know someone who can help organize my organic nut collection?

THOMAS: Sure do. In fact, they're living, breathing, professional nut organizers. Like, that's basically all they've got going on.

RAZ: Well, I guess if they're professional nut organizers, well, they must have a lot of practice. So when can I meet them?

THOMAS: How about now?

RAZ: Now?

THOMAS: Sure. But first, I need to grab a couple of supplies from my house.

RAZ: Uh, what supplies?

THOMAS: And whatever you do, don't let Reggie near your pantry...

RAZ: Uh...

THOMAS: ...He's got a peanut allergy.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: I'll be right back.

RAZ: OK. So you're allergic to nuts, huh?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD NOISE)

RAZ: But I guess you're OK around Mindy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD NOISE)

THOMAS: OK. OK. I'm back.

RAZ: What were you getting over there, Mindy?

THOMAS: Just the bare necessities, Guy Raz. Now here. Put this on.

RAZ: A squirrel suit?

THOMAS: No. I'm wearing the squirrel suit. You're wearing the chipmunk suit.

RAZ: Mindy, there is no way I'm...

THOMAS: Look. Do you want your nut pantry reorganized or not?

RAZ: Hand over the fur.

THOMAS: OK. Now, it's going to be a little snug, but that's just because it's a chipmunk costume made for a dog.

RAZ: A what?

THOMAS: It'll be fine. Now, just squeeze into it while I slip into mine.

RAZ: Mindy, this does not feel comfortable.

THOMAS: Well, that's because you got it on upside down, silly. Here. Let me help you out. It's going to look just fine. Just move your elbow back a little bit. Crank it up. I'm just going to squeeze you in there. There. Look at you. Now, go check yourself out in the mirror. You could totally pass for a legit chipmunk. Ready to go meet my nut-organizing friends?

RAZ: Are you sure this is a good idea, Mindy?

THOMAS: Of course I'm not sure this is a good idea, Guy Raz. But the state of your nut pantry calls for emergency action.

RAZ: Right. So...

THOMAS: So hand me my shrink wand from the adventure tool box over there.

RAZ: Shrink wand, shrink wand. Oh, got it. Here you go. Wait. What?

THOMAS: Shrink wand activate.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Mindy, you put me back to normal right this minute.

THOMAS: Oh, you are the cutest little chipmunk I've ever seen. I'm just going to pinch those little chipmunk cheeks of yours and...

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) No. Mindy, if you don't unshrink me right now...

THOMAS: Hang on just one second, tiny chipmunk Guy Raz. I'm shrinking down with you.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) What?

THOMAS: Shrink wand activate again.

(In high-pitched voice) Look at us, Guy Raz. We're tiny, talking woodland creatures.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Mindy...

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Come on. Let's scamper away outside and meet my friends.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Like this? I'm not even wearing my elbow patches.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Sure you are, Guy Raz. But now your elbow patches are made of far (laughter).

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Oh, yeah.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Oh, look over there.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Over where?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Chipmunk Guy Raz, where are your glasses?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) They're bigger than my body, Mindy.

THOMAS: (Laughing in high-pitched voice).

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) They won't stay on.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Wait.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) What?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Shh. We must be quiet.

RAZ: (Yelling in high-pitched voice) Ah, squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Stop screaming, Guy Raz. You'll scare him away.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Scare him away? Sounds great.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) What?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Boo. Boo. Boo.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Calm down. Do you think your pine nuts and pistachios are just going to organize themselves? Guy Raz?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) No. You said you had a professional nut organizer who would do that for me.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Well, ta-da. This is him.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Who?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Beady little eyes, shaggy tail?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) But that's a squirrel.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Right. So we need to be very polite and not scare him away.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) OK. I'm not sure this is going to work, Mindy.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Now, just watch what he does.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Well, it looks like he's walking over to what appears to be a huge pile of nuts.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Yeah. Now, pay very close attention to what he does with them.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Interesting. It looks like he's separating the nuts into categories...

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Yeah.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) ...And then running back and forth and burying them in different locations, depending on the category of nuts.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Yep. So he's what we call a scatter hoarder.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Stockpiling food and hiding it in different places.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Exact-orito (ph), Guy Raz. And the reason he does this is so that he'll know that at least some of his food stash is protected even if there's a bad storm that wipes out his supply.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Or I suppose another critter who finds out where he's been hiding it.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Hey, that reminds me of the time I accidentally ate all of the Halloween candy you bought for the trick-or-treaters.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Oh, I remember. Only I anticipated that you would do that, so I hid piles of it all over my house so you'd never find all of it.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Yeah. And then you forgot all of your hiding places and wound up having to give out beans to the trick-or-treaters (laughter).

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Hey, those were high-quality organic beans - nature's candy, Mindy.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Well, our squirrel friend here will never forget where he's hidden his stash because researchers at the University of Berkeley in California have just uncovered his secret stashing strategy.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) So there's a method to his organization madness?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Yep. And we're about to see it up close and personal.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Oh, no, Mindy. You're not thinking of...

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) How does my tail look?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Like you just got a bad idea.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Now, straighten your chipmunk stripe and follow my lead, OK?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) I don't like the sound of this.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Hello, Mr. squirrel?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Hi. I was just piddling through the trees with my buddy Chip Raz over here, and I couldn't help but notice that you look like an eastern fox squirrel.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel. Squirrel.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Oh, what's that? You are an eastern fox squirrel?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Well, of course you are.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Mindy. Mindy.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) So as an eastern fox squirrel, you must be really good at organizing your nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Well, I happen to know a nearby land where you can find more species of nuts than you can ever imagine.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel?

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Mindy, this costume is itching. Let's get out of here.

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) And I can take you to this land of nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) But first, if we want to reach the keys to the kingdom, we've got some growing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

RAZ: (In high-pitched voice) Wait. We? Who's we?

THOMAS: (In high-pitched voice) Shrink ray reverse activate.

Oh, that's better. Got to stretch it out. All right. You ready to go nuts, Mr. Squirrelypants (ph)? Hey, Guy Raz. Come on. Open your eyes.

RAZ: Squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel. That's a human-sized squirrel.

THOMAS: Yeah. So about that - I just figured that if he was the size of a full-grown human, it would help to make his job easier and faster, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: Come on, you two. Let's get inside before someone sees us.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: Run, run, run, run.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: Run, run, run, run.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel, squirrel, squirrel, squirrel.

THOMAS: Run, run, run, run. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel, laughing).

THOMAS: Guy Raz, hand me your keys. Just going to unlock this door - and here we are, Mr. Giant Squirrely Pants - in Guy Raz's humble abode. Make yourself right at home.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Whoa, ooh.

THOMAS: OK, OK, OK, now...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel (laughter).

THOMAS: If you'll just scurry on right this way towards the kitchen, you'll find Guy Raz's enormous pantry of mixed nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Whoa. Uh-huh, uh-huh.

RAZ: They weren't mixed an hour ago.

THOMAS: Ahem, so Mr. Squirrel, what we need you to do is to organize these nuts just the way you were doing with your nuts back out there in the yard, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel?

RAZ: Wait, do you speak squirrel, Mindy?

THOMAS: Yes, of course I don't speak squirrel, Guy Raz.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Come on into the kitchen. Come on.

RAZ: Uh...

THOMAS: Now just sit down, relax. Put your feet up on the table while I explain what's going on here.

RAZ: Oh, now you're planning to explain what's going on here. But Mindy, get your feet off my table.

THOMAS: OK, so as I was saying earlier, this group of researchers from the University of Berkeley...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel, squirrel...

THOMAS: ...Have been spending a lot of time with the common eastern fox squirrel - just like this guy - trying to understand his organizational strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel and squirrel. Squirrel?

RAZ: Yeah, I mean, look at him getting to work in my nut pantry.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel, laughing) Wow.

RAZ: It looks like he's grouping all the different nut species into categories.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Yes, yeah.

THOMAS: That's exactly what he's doing, Guy Raz. It's a method known as chunking.

RAZ: Chunking?

THOMAS: Yeah, so chunking is how squirrels organize their nut booty.

RAZ: You know there're other words for booty, like treasure chest or hoard or supply. You don't necessarily need to use that word.

THOMAS: Yeah, but booty's the best word.

RAZ: OK, so what is it? What is chunking?

THOMAS: OK, so chunking is taking long strings of information and breaking them up into chunks. So we humans do this when we put our clothes away in our dresser drawers.

RAZ: Oh, right - just like how I put all my socks in the top drawer and all my wool pants in the bottom drawer.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Wow, squirrel.

THOMAS: Yeah, and then you take it a step further and put all of your striped socks on the right side of the door and all of your solid socks on the left side of the drawer.

RAZ: That's right, and I do this so whenever I need a striped pair of socks, I know exactly where to find them. Wait, wait, wait a minute. Have you been going through my dresser drawers, Mindy?

THOMAS: Have you been going through your dresser drawers, Guy Raz?

RAZ: Wait, what?

THOMAS: And by putting everything in a specific place, you're making a map in your brain.

RAZ: So if I were to close my eyes, I'd be able to picture my dresser drawer and be able to tell you exactly where my striped socks were without even having to look in the actual drawer.

THOMAS: Yes, unlike my house, where I can throw all of my clothes and dishes and important papers inside the same dishwasher and have no idea where to find anything.

RAZ: So what this means is that I'm like...

THOMAS: From an organizational perspective, Guy Raz, you're basically a big squirrel chunker.

RAZ: And I guess from another organizational perspective, you're basically...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR CLOSING)

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: ...A tornado.

THOMAS: Well, I don't know if I'd go that far.

RAZ: So how did these researchers discover that squirrels were using their brains for chunking too?

THOMAS: Well, they conducted a few experiments.

RAZ: OK.

THOMAS: So the scientists started with a hypothesis.

RAZ: So a pretty educated, scientific guess based on data or information collected.

THOMAS: Yup, and based on what they knew about squirrels, they had a serious hunch that the squirrels might use chunking - as in, they would put the almonds in one hole in the ground and the pecans in another, et cetera, et cetera.

RAZ: And was their hypothesis correct?

THOMAS: Well, the results of the experiment said that the squirrels did, in fact, do this.

RAZ: Ah.

THOMAS: ...But only if they got the nuts all from the same place. If they got the nuts from different places, they didn't use chunking. Instead, they just hid all of their nuts in random spots.

RAZ: Well, how do they know? I mean, how were they able to track the nuts of 45 different squirrels?

THOMAS: Oh, so they used hand-held GPS tracking devices to find them and create a map of their collecting and hiding patterns.

RAZ: Say, speaking of nuts, whatever happened to that human-sized squirrel that was supposed to be organizing my nut collection?

THOMAS: Ooh, he's organizing your nuts, all right.

RAZ: What? Where?

THOMAS: Take a look outside in your yard.

RAZ: Mindy, my nuts are all gone, and he's digging hundreds of holes in my beautiful garden.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel.

THOMAS: You never said that you wanted him to organize them in the pantry.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Well, on the bright side, he and his friends will never go hungry.

RAZ: Ugh...

THOMAS: Guy Raz, just consider it payment for a job well-done.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As eastern fox squirrel) Squirrel, squirrel.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE DIALING)

THOMAS: Hi, thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

DARIA: Hi, I'm Daria (ph), and I'm from Chile - Santiago. My wow in the world is that my grandpa's boat - we were going on it in Portland, and a thunderstorm came out of nowhere. And me and my brother were really scared, but we got there safe. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

DEAN: Hello, my name's Dean (ph), and I'm from California. My wow in the world is that I saw the biggest pumpkin in the United States. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

ADDISON: Hi, my name is Addison (ph). I am 8 years old, and I live in Virginia. A big wow in my world is, when I was 4 years old, I had Kawasaki's (ph) disease. No doctors know what caused it. And normally, Japanese people and boys get it, but I'm neither of those. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

JACK: Hi, my name is Jack Cohen (ph), and I'm 4 years old. And my wow in the world is that pilot fish can clean sharks' teeth once they ate their meal - even great whites. And so the sharks won't eat the fish. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

BODHI: Hi, my name is Bodhi (ph). I'm 10 years old. My wow in the world is that plants turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food. The process is called photosynthesis. I love your show, bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

MATILDA AND JOAQUIN: Hi, Guy Raz. Hi, Mindy.

MATILDA: This is Matilda (ph).

JOAQUIN: ...And Joaquin (ph).

MATILDA: We are 6...

JOAQUIN: ...And 9 years old. We are from Massachusetts. Our wow in the world is, we went on a road trip with our mom, visited 20 states and drove 5,800 miles.

MATILDA AND JOAQUIN: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

DEVON: Hi, Guy Raz and Mindy. I'm Devon (ph) from Reading, Pa. And wow in my world is that 150 million people get stung by jellyfish every year. That's about 411,000 every day, which is equal to 17,000 jellyfish stings every hour. Thanks. I love your show, bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone, think you so much for joining us this week for WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And if you want to keep the conversation going, check out some of the questions we've posted on this episode at our website, wowintheworld.com.

THOMAS: You'll also be able to find all of the sources and journal articles we used for today's show.

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson with help from Thomas Van Culkin (ph), Chelsea Ursin and Jessica Bati (ph). Meredith Halpern-Ranzer is the big boss.

THOMAS: Our theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. Find more of their awesome, all-ages music at thepopups.com.

RAZ: Hey, parents and teachers, if you want to send us an email, our address is hello@wowintheworld.com. You can also send snail mail to WOW IN THE WORLD, care of NPR, 1111 North Capitol Street NE, Washington, D.C., 20007.

THOMAS: You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - @wowintheworld.

RAZ: And if you want to be featured at the end of the show, call us up and tell us your wow in the world.

THOMAS: Our phone number is 1-888-7-WOW-WOW. That's 1-888-7-WOW-WOW.

RAZ: And parents, if you want to upload any photos or videos or messages to us, please visit wowintheworld.com and find the link where you can do just that.

THOMAS: And if you haven't already done so, please subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts or however you get your podcasts, and be sure to tell a friend. Until next time, keep on wowing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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