Does a Squirrel Ever Fall?

Falling Squirrel

I’ve often seen squirrels jumping in trees or walking on wires and wondered if they ever fall. They are born with the ability to climb, jump and walk effortlessly across wires that acrobats train years to do safely. That is talent.

Driving through the neighborhood yesterday, I was amazed to see a squirrel hanging on a utility wire. The squirrels teeth were clenching the wire and one arm was grabbing it. The squirrel wasn’t moving so I immediately wondered if it was alive. It wasn’t.

My next thought was whether it bit into the wire or just fell and caught itself just in time. I doubt the squirrel’s teeth would be strong enough to bite into an electrical wire but, they have the power to bite into a nut, I guess it is possible.

What would happen if the squirrel fell? One website article I read this morning went into a theory that terminal velocity is the speed at which an object could fall with no resistance. The squirrels tail provides significant resistance when they fall, kinda’ like a small parachute. If that theory is correct, a fall from even extremely high heights would possibly result in the squirrel being okay.

Falling Squirrel – Gary Pick

I took this picture yesterday before I got out a ladder and removed the squirrel. I had an audience of about a dozen neighborhood kids.

I keep thinking about what happened in the squirrel’s last moment. Did it in fact bite into the wire or was it just afraid of falling so it clung as long as it could, or both? Clearly it grabbed the wire because it was afraid of falling. It didn’t let go. Could it have pulled itself up? Did biting into the wire prevent it from pulling itself up because of a shock?

It was a very public failure. You have your answer. Squirrels do fall.

Gary

I grew up in Baltimore and currently live in the Rodgers Forge community just north of Baltimore City.

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