Squirrels on Olympics: How These Bushy-Tailed Rodents Leap However Do not Fall


The Olympic gymnastics judges would certainly give fox squirrels good marks. Even so, if they fail to make the perfect jump, they won’t move.

Researchers said squirrels jump flawlessly when traveling through trees and other obstacles. They published the study, titled “Acrobatic Squirrels Learn to Jump and Land on Tree Branches Without Falling,” in Science magazine.

(Photo: Pixabay)
Malabar giant squirrel

Squirrel Basic Training Day: Here’s How To Park!

Researchers studied how and why squirrels jump like they did in the Olympics. So they did a “basic squirrel training day”. Live Science said the research team went to their campus grove. They prepared with peanuts and a squirrel-sized device with fixtures that the animals could climb over to recruit their bush-tailed study participants. In order for the squirrels to jump, the device can be equipped with various rods that resemble branches. A landing pole with an attractive cup of peanuts was attached to the opposite end of the device. The squirrels quickly jumped off the pole onto the landing platform to get at the peanuts. So the researchers added the distance between the rod and the perch to make it more difficult for the rodents.

The study found that the squirrels quickly changed their jumping method when faced with rods of varying flexibility and gaps of varying length. Nathaniel Hunt, one of the study’s authors, said that depending on the branch and how far to jump, squirrels decide where to jump.

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For example, when launching a relatively rigid rod, the squirrels would start their leap closer to the end of the rod in order to reduce the distance between them and the peanuts. Squirrels, however, jumped earlier if they jumped off an adjustable pole that curled up under their weight. They would likely lift off the main point of the “branch” and reduce the bending effect.

The squirrels performed an incredible parkour maneuver, bouncing off the back of the climbing device – a flat, vertical wall – and quickly realigning their bodies to land firmly on the peanutfish.

Why do squirrels rarely fall from the tree?

Researchers said that despite wobbly jumps and overshot or undershot landings, none of the squirrels ever collapsed. That’s because squirrels have some of the most standout physical traits. Scientific American said. These creatures have flexible spines, sticky paws, and grasping claws. Squirrels aren’t just daring acrobats; they are great students too!

The study authors explained in their work that squirrels continuously measure the spring force of their limbs, measure the distance to the nearest branch and change their movements exceptionally quickly. This could be because squirrels believe their claws are helping them, Phys.org said.

The UC Berkeley team will continue to research squirrel biomechanics and their relationship to cognition, according to Ars Technica, in the hopes of one day developing a robot that can jump like a squirrel.

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More news and information can be found at animals in Science-Times.