An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Red Squirrel Belly Flop

Congratulations to Mary Pratt, the first reader to correctly identify the impression a Red Squirrel left in the snow.  Red Squirrels are fiercely territorial, and will chase each other furiously in order to defend their territory and their food caches. The photographer, Susan Bull Riley, witnessed this behavior as she watched two Red Squirrels racing after each other in the crown of a maple tree.  Suddenly one of them fell to the ground, where sleet and wet snow cushioned its fall and recorded the belly flop landing.  No time was lost in the resumption of the chase!

There were many “Flying Squirrel” responses, which makes great sense as they are approximately the same size as a Red Squirrel (just an inch or two shorter in length) and are gliding from tree to tree or from tree to the ground.  My assumption is that a Flying Squirrel’s landing impression might show some of the patagium, or membrane, that stretches from a squirrel’s wrists to its ankles, due to the fact that it is extended as the squirrel glides. (Any firsthand Flying Squirrel landing-in-snow impression observations welcome.) Thanks to all who submitted an answer to this Mystery Photo.  Many were very amusing!

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.

4 responses

  1. Alice

    At least squirrel had a soft landing. Wonder what it was thinking, as it fell. Flying Squirrels are nocturnal, so firsthand snow-plops are doubtful.

    November 25, 2019 at 8:24 am

  2. Thanks! Quite a few got it correct! This gal/guy pictured is so nice looking! 🙂 ❤

    November 25, 2019 at 8:35 am

  3. Kit Hood

    Last winter I noticed a red squirrel very high in a tall pine. It went out on a branch and I noticed that an ermine was right behind it. The squirrel dropped to the ground and then the ermine. I went out to see if there were any dying critters, since the drop was from so high up. Only saw a few impressions in the snow. I bet the ermine got the squirrel!

    November 25, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    • Hi drama, Kit! Envy you being able to observe it!

      November 25, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s