Squirrels that are right or left-handed are slower at learning new tasks

Squirrels follow humans in being left and right-handed, scientists have discovered.

But although some favor one side of the body over the other, it is not to make their brains more efficient — as is believed to be the case in people.

Researchers studied 30 wild grey squirrels — 12 of which provided sufficient data.

The critters had to learn to use a paw to reach nuts inside a perspex tube.

The team from the University of Exeter then took note of which paw the squirrels used.

While some showed ambidexterity, others strongly favored one side.

Study author Dr. Lisa Leaver said: “We found that the squirrels who had stronger tendencies to use either their left or their right paws rather than being ambidextrous were the ones who didn’t perform as well on the tasks. So they didn’t learn as quickly.”

She said the findings are in line with previous mammal studies that suggest strongly favoring one side is “linked to poor cognitive performance” — but more research is needed.