how far can a squirrel fall without dying

So how far can a squirrel fall without dying?

When ascending, they can make a vertical leap of ten times their body length and rotate their ankles through a full 180 degrees.

In simple words, Squirrels are incredible! What strikes us most about squirrels is their adorable nature.

But, have you ever wondered what would happen if a 300g squirrel with a fluffy tail fell from a height?

Dropping to the ground could be fatal for a squirrel, right? Well, maybe not!

While height is a factor to consider, it is known that squirrels can fall from 100 feet and still land unharmed. 

How Far Can a Squirrel Fall Without Dying?

a flying squirrel

Slightly bigger than mice, squirrels are amazing, especially when you see them take a fall and live. 

In fact, they can survive falls from incredibly high places. 

Yes, they may occasionally sustain injuries, but they generally manage falls without harm.

However, how far can a squirrel fall and survive also depends on the height itself.

In fact, many people have witnessed squirrels falling from great heights, including rooftops, trees, and powerlines, and landing unharmed.

Fact: Most people don't know but squirrels can be as big as 36 inches, and usually belong to the Indian Giant Squirrel family. 

The Wonderful Squirrels at Work

wonders of squirrels at work

Quite like many other mammals, squirrels come with a unique anatomy that allows them to survive a fall from considerable heights.

When ascending a tree, their movements are never sporadic, but on the contrary, they move rapidly with extreme accuracy.

This repertoire of skills complements and improves their innate capacity for rapid, damage-free tree climbing.

And even if they fall, their little mass and negligible gravity make them immune to the harm that would otherwise result from a fall. 

Squirrels may therefore comfortably withstand a fall of up to 100 feet.

Fact: Squirrels are constantly gnawing on objects, but it doesn't hurt their teeth that keep growing throughout their lives. 

Understanding The Technical Aspect of Free Falling

As an object falls freely through space, it is subject to two forces operating against one another.

Resistance from the air and the gravitational pull are those forces.

In the first case, the object is pulled upwards, while in the second case, it is pushed down, toward the ground. 

According to Newton‘s first law, if two forces act on an item, adding them together gives you the net force.

But, you may also know that the combined effect of the two forces on an object’s mass determines its acceleration. 

It means that the object’s speed will remain constant since there is no acceleration. 

It can happen because aerodynamic resistance grows as the square of the speed.

For instance, you will encounter greater obstructions the faster you move. 

You will have to fight the urge to speed up. In other words, no matter how far down it goes, the speed continuously stays within a predetermined limit. 

It is called terminal velocity, which is why squirrels can land unharmed no matter the height. 

Factors Helping Squirrels Survive Falls

factors on survival

When you wonder how a squirrel survives a fall from a tall building, you have to consider two important points. 

Basically, they manage it because of their size and their mass.

You can multiply mass by acceleration to get a force (like gravity’s pull, for example). 

On Earth, the force of gravity exerted on any given object is constant at about 9.81 m/s2.

Because squirrels are so light (often weighing less than 0.5kg), the force acting on one when it free-falls is quite small.

This would be entirely different for something with a great mass. 

For instance, a 50 kg man who comes crashing down at high speed is sure to sustain serious injuries from a fall.

Fact: There are three different types of squirrels, including tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels. 

Squirrels with Anatomy Built for Withstanding Falls

anatomy of squirrels

When squirrels jump, they use their massive tail as a stabilizing base and their sharp claws to grab onto anything they land on. 

With cartilage in their ankles, they are also able to absorb the impact.

Interestingly, if they do not fall on their feet, they are capable of flipping midair so their bellies face the ground. 

Using their chest and abdomen, they tactfully break their fall and almost always land softly on their back. 

Can Baby Squirrels Manage Falls Equally Well?

While it is true that adult squirrels cannot be knocked off a tree, is it the same with baby squirrels? Is it possible for a young squirrel to perish if it falls?

Not at all!  Despite popular belief, young squirrels would not die because of a fall.

new born squirrels

They have almost no possibility of falling out of a tree thanks to their exceptional climbing skills. 

But it is worth mentioning that adult squirrels are extremely good at caring for their young ones.

Even if they fall and sustain injuries, it is a good idea to not interfere and let the mother squirrel come and take care of it. 

You might want to call in a wildlife rehabilitator if the baby squirrel gets no help after a while.

Fact: Squirrels can be extremely fast and are able to hit 20mph, thanks to their padded feet, which offer perfect cushions while jumping around. 

Will a Squirrel Die If Fallen from a Tree?

squirrel falling from a tree

Well, that is quite unlikely.

Squirrels may be able to withstand drops that would kill other animals because of their robust resistance to the effects of gravity.

When a squirrel falls, it experiences an impact around ten times weaker than its ability to withstand the fall. 

This means that a squirrel is probably immune to the effects of falling from any height.

Squirrels are able to control their descent and avoid injury in the case of a collision because they have a small body mass in relation to a large surface area.

Therefore, squirrels have a good chance of survival even if they fall from a considerable height. 

What Happens If a Squirrel Falls?

squirrel fallen from a tree

Well, whatever happens, the chances of a squirrel dying after a fall are rather slim.

Considering the exceptional climbing skills of squirrels, it is so hard to believe that one of them would die falling off a tree. 

And the truth is that they can easily survive a fall, at least from a tree.

As mentioned, they are incredible climbers. It means that the chances of them falling are already quite low. 

Their hooked claws keep them securely attached to the tree bark.

But, even if they fall, they have such physical attributes that save them from sustaining serious injuries. 

Why Do You Rarely See Squirrels Falling and Dying?

rare occurence of death from falling

Squirrels, being highly intelligent creatures, choose to make their homes exclusively in trees of a manageable height. 

Therefore, you will never find a squirrel residing in a tree with very high branches.

But, do they ever actually fall from trees

In fact, squirrels frequently fall off of trees as they are trying to scurry across them.

And they break twigs and branches on the way to the ground. But, they manage it with perfect landing. 

That is why a squirrel can die by being impaled on a branch or eaten by a predator. 

An Important Fact to Know

Squirrels have been known to die after falling from great heights, with reports of deaths occurring at falls over 100 feet.

But, the important thing is that falling from such heights usually results in death for squirrels only when they hit hard surfaces like concrete. 

It may also happen when they hit sharp items like rocks and twigs. These falls can lead to internal bleeding and death. 

How Do Squirrels Usually Die?

predator chasing a squirrel

The possibility of dying from a fall is fairly low, but it does not mean squirrels are immortal.

Like everything else, squirrels eventually perish. 

Many things can kill them, including poison, disease, and predators. 

A good analogy would be old or injured squirrels that are unable to forage for food and eventually starve to death.  

Shockingly, a ravenous squirrel may even devour other squirrels. 

And of course, scavengers work together with mother nature to quickly dispose of a nesting squirrel’s body. This is why it is unusual to come across a dead squirrel.

In the wild, there are many predators of squirrels, such as:

  • Coyotes
  • Weasels
  • Foxes
  • Badgers
  • Bobcats

And in many parts of the world, raccoons, snakes, gray foxes, and red foxes are also among the predators of squirrels. 

Takeaway

So, how far can a squirrel fall without dying? Well, it is hard to answer that because no one has ever tried making them fall off a skyscraper. 

But, there have been instances of squirrels managing a fall as high as 100ft with no problem whatsoever. 

And it is quite possible that they can handle a fall much higher, thanks to their anatomy and physical attributes.

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