amazing squirrels' survival


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Maxed out in the bucket yesterday at 75'. last top on big oak, maybe 44" DBH.. Getting ready to bomb the piece, but noticed a grey fuzzy tail about 12' above me.... Thought about using a pole saw to chase him down, but probably wouldn't work, so I decided to lower the piece out, figuring he'd have a better chance of surviving...

Little dude rode the piece down for a second them jumped, spread his "wings" and caught a lower limb on a sugar maple some 50' below... He promptly scrambled across the branch, down the trunk and ran across the driveway in perfect condition. Found out today that there was a second one that rode to full swing, jumped over to the trunk upon impact and was just fine as well... Pretty impressive..


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Two weeks ago I felled the spar of a scarlet oak with a big cavity and a flying squirrel crawled out the crumbly bottom, looked at us, ran up a dogwood and flew to another tree. So cool! I would not be so frisky after riding my treehouse to the ground.


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I came across flying squirrels for the first time about a month ago while trimming deadwood out of an oak. They are neat to watch. Luckily the homeowner was understanding when I left a dead hollow trunk that was their nest. It was in no danger of hitting anything of value if it did fail in the future


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Leaving trees for habitat (including microorganisms) is becoming a bit more common here and has been done for some time across the pond
Squirrels have that weird thing cats have where they can fall great distances and not be killed, often not even injured. Even the non-flying ones. There was a radio article recently where they talked about a old study. NY vet started to keep track of cat falls out of high rise buildings . I don't remember all the numbers but it was over 100 cats. 20+ of the cats survived a fall of 8 stories or higher, and only one died. One cat in the study fell over 300 feet.

Radio Lab, I think ...

I agree. Pretty impressive.


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Heard the same show... interesting and counter-inutitive bit was that cats that fell from above 7 stories seemed to have a higher survival rate than from mid-level heights below 7 stories..
check out this article.. seems to me that acceleration must be considered as a factor in forces applied, nit just velocity, but hey its been a long time since I took HS physics.. maybe the laws have changed since then..


Now, if you think that’s strange. Here’s something even weirder. The number of injuries a domestic cat has from a long fall actually seems to go down above a certain height, specifically above about seven stories tall. There are two prevalent theories as to why this is the case.

The first, presented by the veterinarians who did this study, is that cats will tend to tense up and arch their backs while they are accelerating, similar to how they look when they are feeling threatened. While this form is great for absorbing short falls, it turns out to be a poor choice for a high velocity impact. Specifically, in these high velocity impacts, being tense like that will drastically increase the cat’s injury rate. In addition to this, this form will increase the cat’s velocity around 15 or so miles per hour over the estimated average terminal velocity for cats.

Once the cats reach their terminal velocity though, it’s theorized that they relax and assume a more spread-eagle, “flying squirrel”, stance, which in turn reduces their over-all velocity; puts them in a more relaxed body state; and gives a larger surface area to absorb the impact. While the study offers no direct visual proof of this happening, the types and locations of injuries seen from the cats that would have reached their terminal velocity seem to back up this idea.

An alternative theory is that cats above this height simply die more often or have much more serious injuries and so aren’t brought into the veterinarian clinic at all. This seems likely enough. But it should be noted that the average number of injuries of the cats brought in having fallen from 7-32 stories is still less than the average number of injuries, per cat, brought in having fallen under that height. So while it’s plausible enough that cats falling above this height would die more, having not yet reached their terminal velocity at 7 stories, that still doesn’t explain why the average number of injuries on the cats that were brought in were less.

Cats at around 7 stories should reach a velocity of around 40-45 mph, assuming around 10 feet per story, which is about 15-20 mph off their terminal velocity. Interestingly though, they should reach their terminal velocity at around 12-13 stories. In this study, there were numerous cats that survived falls as high as 32 stories and there have been recorded instances of cats falling from as high as 26 stories, that walk away with no injuries at all, which means those cats could have been dropped from 5000 feet and still have been fine, assuming they landed in the same spot and position.

It should also be noted that the vast majority of the cats brought in likely landed on cement. So it is theorized that the injury rate and severity of injury would go down a bit had they landed on grass covered ground or the like.


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I don't support science that causes suffering for animals, however it would be tempting to set up a couple mattresses on a trampoline and take some measurements from bucket truck...


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I dropped an oak once, started bucking it like Daniel's YouTube videos taught me to, then found a nest with lots of big eyes ~3ft. in front of my face. They stayed in place until I tried to saw off the 1" diameter nest branch so I could transport them to safety. Apparently the vibrations were too close to home. Everyone, about 6 or 8 adults and kids, scattered and went up two separate trees. After calling to each other for a bit, they united by flying to one of the trees. Super cool.