Last updated on October 31st, 2022
Some people are born with increased immunity. Similarly, some animals are physically a lot more immune than their other counterparts. Physical strength is a development of physical and evolutionary prowess.
For example, these animals that can survive terminal velocity have the innate ability to resist pressure and not get affected by falling from a substantial height. These creatures have developed in the evolutionary process to reduce the impact that falling may have on them through terminal velocity.
What animals can survive terminal velocity?
- Bearded Dragons
List of animals that can survive terminal velocity
Here is a list of animals that cannot die from falling. And wait, while you must think that this is all about cats and rats, more animals clear the criteria.
Most squirrels dwell high in the trees, attics, or roofs of houses. They live at significant heights. So it is quite plausible to think that they fall at times, especially when scurrying at such heights.
However, it may be astonishing to know that squirrels hardly ever die falling from great heights, and this might just sound like a miracle!
This is because gravity has pulled on falling objects. Yes, but that’s all that we have learned from our physics classes at school. Two more factors stop a squirrel from dying from a fall.
First, there is something called aerodynamic resistance, or drag. That is the upward push that a falling body endures from the air around it.
The second factor is that our furry friends tend to stretch out their bodies and puff out their tails to increase the drag when falling.
Quite impressive, isn’t it? Here is a further explanation as to why squirrels can’t die from falling.
Another factor that decides the probability of whether an animal will die or not from falling – is its size. The smaller the size of a creature, the less effect gravity has on them.
Naturally, rats and mice can fall from great heights and not be injured at all; they may suffer from a mild concussion perhaps, but nothing more serious.
Two sub-points to note and understand here. First of all, size, weight, and mass will play a great role.
With more mass per square unit, the object’s body (in our case, please read ‘animal’ instead of ‘object’) tends to be heavier, which may make it break up upon impact from falling.
Secondly, the volume also plays a great role. A body of a bigger volume, but less mass, will tend to withstand the impact of falling from heights.
Quite impressive, isn’t it? Can rats survive terminal velocity? Check out that article for an in-depth explanation.
Usually, a hamster seldom dies from falling, isn’t this interesting? This is due to all that we have already discussed above in the case of squirrels and rats.
However, a hamster may sustain injuries from the impact of a fall – from a little higher. It may lead to a fracture, dislocation, or paralysis at times.
When a hamster dies from falling, the death can usually be attributed to the object upon which it makes the impact.
Sometimes it may be because the hamster fell from a great height. And at other times, death can be caused because the hamster fell on its head or because the fall broke its neck.
Usually, upon landing, your hamster will be free for a few seconds. Then, within a few seconds, it will get back to normal business again.
It is said that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. It is so very true in the case of spiders too. So size does matter in case of a fall.
However, a factor to take into consideration here is how furry the spider is – or not. The furrier it is, the lesser the chance of dying as much of the impact will be absorbed by the fur.
Also, this same fur or hair on a spider may allow it to avail much of the drag (aerodynamic resistance, remember?) while it is in transit.
Again, certain species of spiders enjoy being thrown off simply because they get to quickly spin a web while in the air.
This web acts like a balloon and carries it away to some other, safer spot, where it can settle better.
We wrote an in-depth explanation on this topic and you can check it out here – Can spiders survive terminal velocity?
Terminal velocity is an additional term for us to learn while on this topic. Terminal velocity is the velocity that gets accelerated to a maximum point due to the pull of gravity.
Here, the air pushing an object upward causes the terminal velocity to hit a certain point, after which acceleration stops.
This is where the air resistance that pushes the body up becomes equal to the force of gravity that pulls the body down.
An ant is so lightweight that its terminal velocity is far less than other bigger and heavier objects.
Add to all that the exoskeleton of an ant and its hardiness, and it all becomes clear why the ant is not killable from a fall, even from great heights.
In the case of lizards and geckoes, they are so lightweight compared to the volume and flattened body that they have; air resistance (drag) helps them survive many falls.
What mostly kills lizards is the surface that they land on. If it lands on a stick, it may die almost surely.
Again, if it falls a great height, say from a few stories, and lands on a cement floor, or some hard surface, it can most surely die.
However, falling from a room ceiling to its floor may render the lizard or gecko unconscious for a few seconds. After that, it will be back in its usual activities.
A lizard falling from tree leaves or a tree branch onto soft grass or flowers will not harm them at all.
If you’re still curious about whether lizards can die from falling, you can check out that article for more information.
You might be amazed to know, a cockroach doesn’t die when it falls. Quite often, we have seen a cockroach fall from great heights and remain unfazed.
This is simply because they are of small size, and they also weigh very little. As a result, they don’t fall at great speeds.
They don’t make an impact on the ground below at any great force. So it is only natural that they remain unhurt. All this, coupled with the strong exoskeleton, made them endure such falls quite seamlessly.
Mice fall out of trees and off roofs all the time, but they don’t usually die, and it’s not because they’re trying to kill themselves. They just don’t know better.
However, a mouse can die from falling! They may not be able to move fast enough to avoid hitting their head against an object. However, they do usually land on soft surfaces such as grass or bedding.
If a mouse falls onto its back, it will likely struggle to get up again. It might try to crawl around, but this usually doesn’t work very well because the mouse’s hind legs might’ve broken. Instead, it will probably end up lying still until it dies.
If you see a mouse lying on its back, this indicates that it has been injured in a fall. It should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Here is an article that we wrote going over more details on whether mice can die from falling.
9. Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons can survive falls onto soft surfaces like flowers, leaves, or perhaps soft grass because the impact will be absorbed by the soft area in which it lands.
But when the situation is flipped. A bearded dragon can die from falling especially if the impact was against a hard surface like tile or concrete.
In addition, the weight and size of the reptile will not only result in broken limbs but also internal damage.
Furthermore, these reptiles often climb rocks and small trees, but they have no sticky feet, so they often slip and fall because they are not able to adhere to rough or smooth surfaces.
Even their claws or arms won’t save them from hanging on due to the weight of their body.
This is also a topic we covered in depth and you can take a look at it here – Can bearded dragons die from falling?
Since most small chameleons descend at a slow enough rate to survive unlimited fall distances, they don’t take fall damage.
On the other hand, chameleons are so good at clinging to surfaces that it’s rare for them to fall because the claws on their feet and hands are tightly gripped on the object that they are holding.
However, for chameleons in general, if they do fall, it’s usually at a speed of less than 25 kph.
If you’re still interested in reading more about chameleons surviving falls, we explored this topic further so you can check out that article for a more in-depth explanation.
What animals can survive terminal velocity?
The animals that can survive terminal velocity are squirrels, rats, hamsters, spiders, ants, lizards, and cockroaches because these animals are small and relatively weightless.
Why can small animals survive falls?
Small animals can survive a fall because they are relatively weightless and will experience little pull from gravity allowing them to land on their feet.