At least once in their lifetimes people would get to see a squirrel. The sight of these adorable rodents running and jumping all over park trees makes a pretty impressive display of speed and agility. Their muscles are highly responsive, their limbs strong and dexterous despite their fragile look, and they can seemingly grasp any surface, which enables them to go pretty much wherever they want.
Personally, I love watching them run and jump; they’re simply fascinating little creatures! However, this text is not about examining the traits of their agility, nor is it about my love and admiration of squirrels. We are here to find an answer to a simple question: “how far can a squirrel jump?” . The quick answer would be: about 9 feet horizontally and 4 feet vertically, but let’s learn more about it.
As we have stated earlier, squirrels are rodents from the Scuridae species. Scuridae include ground squirrels, tree-dwelling squirrels, flying squirrels, prairie dogs, and chipmunks (Alvin and the Chipmunks, anyone? Or Chip and Dale?).
Their average weight is around 500 g, and their size varies. African pigmy squirrel is only 5 inches long from nose to the tip of the tale, while Indian giant squirrel can be even 3 feet long! A real Goliath of a squirrel!
Their brown fur helps them blend in with their environment, while their large eyes grant them very good vision. Their large, fluffy tail has multiple purposes. It helps maintain balance while climbing and/or jumping, it can be used as a sort of a cushion in case they misstep and fall from a tree, or it can be used in communication with other squirrels.
Squirrels’ claws are versatile and strong, perfect for grabbing tree trunks and branches while climbing. And no, they are actually not strong enough to break glaciers with a single acorn, so don’t worry, you’re safe.
Usually, squirrels are herbivores, their main source of food being nuts, fruit, mushrooms, seeds and conifer cones, but they can resort to eating meat when starved. In that case, they eat bird eggs, small insects, and even some smaller snakes and other small rodents. Adorable, but quite fierce when needed. Just like Sandy from the “Sponge-Bob” cartoon.
How Far Can They Jump, Though?
The length of their jump, however, can vary a lot, depending of the age, species, position and whether or not a squirrel is moving or not.
Eastern Gray Squirrel, one of the most commonly found types of squirrels in the US, can jump about 9 feet (2.7 meters) horizontally, with a certain running start. Vertically, it can jump up to 4 feet (1.2m), which, compared to its size, is pretty amazing! In proper conditions (good enough running start and height of the jumping point), squirrels are able to jump the distances about 20-30 times bigger than their size!
Consider this: they are approximately 10 times smaller than human beings; if I had the proportionate jumping ability of an average Eastern Gray, I would be a real life superhero, able to reach the 5th floor in a single leap, and easily vault over cars and busses!
And for those of you who love superheroes, there actually is a superhero with squirrel-related superpowers. She is called the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and she’s great!
Here we have a fun video demonstrating the squirrels’ jumping ability. It is not too long of a distance, but nevertheless, it’s a solid landing!
So, this is how far an average squirrel can jump. But let’s talk about the one who can outmatch them all, the titular “Super-Squirrel”: the flying squirrel.
Firstly, I need to mention one sad little detail: they may be called flying squirrels, but sadly, they can’t actually fly. What they can do, however, is jump off a tall tree, or some other vantage point, and graciously glide through the air.
Gliding is perhaps not as cool as flying, but the sight of a flying squirrel “flying” is still one to behold. And since flying squirrels are nocturnal creatures, we can even call them “the Batmen of squirrels”! Or Bat-squirrels. Let’s just move on.
They glide by using the thin membrane stretched between their limbs, and their soft and bushy tails are also used in this purpose, for in-flight balance and stability. Well, in-glide. The longest measured distance they can cover by gliding is up to 300 feet (or 90 meters).
Their elegant way of flight served as inspiration for us humans, so naturally, we wanted to try it out ourselves. Since we had no natural way of achieving this, we resorted to making skydiving suits. Now we too can jump from tall cliffs and buildings and majestically glide away.
If you ever dare to try this out (because I am not sure I will; not because of being afraid, mind you, but because of certain things I really must finish…), don’t forget to use the parachute. Remember: gliding isn’t flying!
If you’ve never seen a flying squirrel in action, see below!
Problems with Jumping
We see now just how much squirrels are impressive little critters. Yet, despite all of the glamour, there are certain problems regarding all that jumping around (besides the obvious safety hazards of jumping from one branch to another, or even from one tree to another!) that we need to address.
If you have a bird feeder somewhere in your back yard, chances are those seeds will be stolen by the squirrels ( check out our recommended squirrel proof bird feeders here). As we have already mentioned above, squirrels love seeds, and will go to amazing lengths in order to acquire it, and that means your feeders are not safe. All over the various internet forums and sites people complain about how those pesky furry rogues jump from the trees right on top of their bird feeders, take as much seed as they can, and scurry away into the safety of their nests.
Alternatively, they sneak like little forest ninjas until they’re directly under the feeder, climb all the way to the seed, then run away without a trace.
And those who thought that hanging the feeder from a rope or a wire instead of placing it on a pole would stop the determined seed snatchers, they were in for a surprise. They had the chance to saw just how high the squirrels can jump, and boy were they surprised. The squirrels are a force to be reckon with – especially when it comes to food! And to be quite honest, I can relate to this particular feature of theirs. What can I say, I take food very seriously.
Another problem related to their incredible jumping and gliding ability is the chance of them jumping and landing on the roof of your house (assuming, of course, that you live in an area close to a park or a forest) and decide that nesting under your roof, or in the very walls of your house, is an excellent idea.
In that case, do call a wildlife removal company; they’re not there to bother you, but to hide from their natural predators, so please, treat them kindly. If they are in your house, remove them with the help of the wildlife removing specialists; if they are stealing seeds from your birdfeeders, buy the squirrel-resistant ones (you may find some interesting options here), or simply resign to your fate.
Squirrels as Pets? Yes, But…
In case you were wondering: yes, you can have a pet squirrel! They can be tamed and found in pet shops, but you need to acquire a special permit in order to adopt your very own fluffy little friend. However, certain wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians warn that squirrels are better off in the wild, listing cons of having a pet squirrel.
Some of those cons are:
- Extremely sharp claws which can easily hurt you;
- Squirrels tend to bite and nibble on anything that seems tasty to them;
- They need a lot of space, and almost constant attention, etc.
And the biggest con? They’ll eat your bird feed!
As we can see, squirrels are indeed extraordinary jumpers! 4 feet vertically (some people even claimed they saw the reach close to 6 feet!), 9 feet horizontally, and 300 feet of gliding distance – squirrels can certainly achieve some amazing feats when you take their size into consideration! If you see them somewhere in the park, or in the wild, do leave some seeds for them, and mind the issues I told you about earlier. I hope you’ll agree with me that squirrels are wonderful, adorable and beautiful creatures!
All this notwithstanding, we have the answer to our question: squirrels do jump, and they do it with style! Now please excuse me, I need to watch the Ice Age movies again. That darn acorn-obsessed, continent-reshaping, indestructible squirrel is absolutely brilliant!