Can Squirrels Die from Falling? (Squirrels Surviving Terminal Velocity)

Last updated on October 7th, 2022

You must have observed that squirrels can jump quite efficiently from one tree branch to another. I always wondered what would happen if they fell. Will a squirrel die if it falls, or will it survive the fall? I decided to find out more about this.

A squirrel can die from falling by hitting a sharp object or breaking its neck. Since squirrels are small and relatively weightless, they will experience little pull from gravity allowing them to land on their feet thus surviving the impact of that velocity.

However, squirrels tend to land on a branch, they usually take a couple of hops, then fall to the ground. 

This is a natural reaction for squirrels as it allows them to land safely, and save themselves.

Can squirrels survive a fall?

The first thing that crossed my mind was the distance squirrels could fall without hurting themselves.

My friend, a zoologist who loves little furry animals like chipmunks told me that squirrels can survive a fall of one hundred feet to a concrete surface.

However, they can also survive a more significant distance fall if it is a softer surface like a forest floor or grassland.

squirrel falling from tree 13112021

What height can be dangerous for squirrels?

Usually, a distance of more than one hundred feet can prove dangerous. A distance of two hundred feet or more is fatal for a squirrel.

Moreover, if the creature falls on a sharp object or any object that proves dangerous, then falling can be fatal for the squirrel.

How can a squirrel survive a fall of such great distance?

The unique ability of squirrels to remain unhurt when they fall from such heights lies in the fact that the creature has cartilages around its ankles instead of bones.

So, when they land on their feet, there is no chance of breaking any bones and getting injured. Instead, it resembles landing on a soft object like a waterbed.

Do squirrels actively avoid falling?

When I asked this question, my friend replied, “It is difficult to say”.

Squirrels do not like diving from trees and will not jump off a branch to the bottom unless they are threatened and fleeing a predator. 

Hence, even if they spot food or something that attracts their attention, they would instead climb down the tree and check out the item that has made them curious.

Usually, squirrels do not take a dive from their nests to the bottom of a tree.

Why can’t squirrels die from falling?

First, you must understand that squirrels have a relatively large area-to-mass ratio, which means gravity will not pull the squirrel with much force when it falls from a height.

Since the body of squirrels is aerodynamically built, you will find that squirrels can survive falls from great heights.

Can squirrels survive terminal velocity?

Squirrels can survive terminal velocity due to aerodynamic resistance, this is known as the upward push that a falling body endures from the air around it. Squirrels will stretch out their bodies and puff out their tails to increase their resistance when falling.

As a result, their terminal velocity is actually quite low, so they can withstand impacts at low speeds.

Squirrels are one of those few animals that can survive impacts at terminal velocity.

Terminal velocity is an object’s highest velocity when it is dropped from a height. For example, imagine a squirrel falling from a height of at least fifty feet.

Here the terminal velocity will be pretty high, and most objects will break completely when dropped from such a height. But a squirrel will remain unscathed.

Here is an overview of the list of animals that can survive terminal velocity.

What do squirrels do when they fall?

My zoologist friend said this was probably the most exciting thing a squirrel does when it falls.

Like most animals, they tend to curl themselves into a ball, but at the last moment, you will find that squirrels stretch out their legs and fall flat on their feet.

I personally observed this when a squirrel that had made a nest in a hole in the oak tree in my backyard fell from its nest.

The moment it fell, it jumped back on all four legs and climbed back to its nest! I was surprised to see that it had survived such a fall.

Does that mean squirrels somersault in mid-air?

If necessary, squirrels can somersault in mid-air.

To ensure that it lands firmly on its feet, a squirrel can turn in mid-air, and you will find that it will instinctively spread out its body at the last moment.

This reduces the impact and prevents damage to its body, making the fall less fatal. In most cases, squirrels hardly die when they fall from a tree.

They will stretch their body to the maximum to prevent damage to a particular body part and reduce pressure.

Will a squirrel jump up after a fall?

I have often observed that a squirrel jumps up the moment it falls.

My friend explained that squirrels often do not land on their feet but on their stomach to cushion the fall.

They jump up when they have landed to reduce the pressure further. You will find that the agility of their movement almost resembles that of superheroes!

They will land and immediately jump up in a single swift movement.

Can squirrels get hurt when they fall off a tree?

It is not unheard of for those squirrels to hurt themselves when they have fallen from a tree. In addition, it can hurt if a squirrel lands on its back or neck.

The primary reason for this is the bones on the back of the neck, or the spine can break if the squirrel lands on its back.

If a bone in the creature’s body breaks, it can prove dangerous and painful.

Then what is so special about flying squirrels?

Flying squirrels are different species of squirrels.

They do not fly like bats or birds. Instead, they have a membrane attached to their forelimbs and hind limbs, allowing them to glide.

If you have observed a flying squirrel jump, you must have observed that it does so to glide off from one branch to another.

Flying squirrels will hardly ever die by falling from the branch of a tree because it is their natural movement to jump off a branch and glide off.

What role does gravity play when a squirrel falls?

This is probably the most exciting fact!

In the case of a massive object or a creature, gravity can prove to be an enemy and the most dangerous force while falling from a height.

Given a squirrel’s size, build, and design, gravity has virtually no effect on the creature when falling from a hundred feet.

So if a squirrel falls on a grass floor, you might even find it happily gamboling away, enjoying the fall from a height!


Scroll to Top