Today is a winter cuteness overload post. I was walking in -15 fidgeting my fingers to save them from freezing. For the moment I stopped watching the snowflakes flirting on me, when my phone buzzed to give me a new daily learning. Did you know that squirrels in fact use their tail to protect them from snow? You bet, they do.
A squirrel’s tail is more than a cute accessory. It serves 3 main functions that enable the squirrel to survive: protection, communication and balance.
Protection: A squirrel can wrap its tail over its body to protect itself from the snow. It can also use it as a cover while sleeping to keep its body warm. In summer instead, by pumping more blood into its tail the squirrel can lower its body temperature.
Communication: Squirrels can communicate through various sounds. However peeping and whistling are not the only ways squirrels communicate with each other. By flicking the tail quickly 3 times in a row a squirrel can warn other squirrels of danger, so they become more alert. In addition, squirrels use their tails by means of visual communication, to attract members of the opposite sex. So next time you see a squirrel shivering its tail, it’s most likely going for a date.
Balance: Finally, a squirrel uses its tail as a counterbalance to keep itself steady as it’s leaping through the trees. It also allows squirrels to move across the treetops and thin branches. The fluffiness of the tail can also function as a kind of parachute, slowing a squirrel’s descent when it falls, which may occasionally happen.
Photo credit: National Geographic