If you’ve ever before startled a squirrel, you may notice a curious behavior. Oftentimes, the squirrel will prevent what it’s doing and also lie flat on the ground.

Even when it’s no scared, you might see squirrels lying level on the floor or ~ above a branch in a tree.


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When a squirrel senses hazard it will flatten every or component of it’s human body on the ground. Red squirrel on the alert because that danger. Photo: NPS/Robbie Hannawacker. Denali nationwide Park.

There are several reasons for why 설 설 will suddenly lie level on the ground, a patio railing, or tree branch.

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Squirrels Lie level to Hide and Survive

While it may seem counter-intuitive come suddenly stop in the presence of a danger, the plot of lying level is a protective device for squirrels.


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The underbelly of numerous tree squirrels is much lighter 보다 its outer coast. Photo: NPS/ Robbie Hannawacker, Denali national Park

First, the action of lying level hides the lighter colored ship of a squirrel. The fur color on the external sideof a squirrel advanced to help the squirrel mix in v its environment.

If you’ve ever before seen a squirrel versus the bark the a tree, you will certainly see exactly how well the fur blends v tree bark (there room some exceptions wherein non-native squirrels have actually been presented such together the melanistic eastern gray squirrel found in many communities roughly the unified States).


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Unlike the lighter colored underbelly, the hair on the external body that a squirrel help it it blend in through its environment. Photo: Nez Perce National historic Park, NPS.

Second, the attitude of lying flat on a surface likewise helps to protect the an essential organs of a squirrel should it be attacked. This posture additionally protects the genitalia of male squirrels from gift bitten by other squirrels.

Squirrels Lie flat to Cool Down


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A hoary marmot relaxing during a sunny day top top a rock ledge through the Eielson Visitor center in Denali national Park, AK. Photo: NPS/Jen Wall

Beyond gift a protective strategy, lying flat has various other benefits.

Lying flat on a cool surface helps the squirrel cool down by dissipating body heat. By dispersing out the human body on a spot of ground the is cooler than the surrounding air, the squirrels enables the superficial blood ship to be in closer contact with the ground.

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A soil squirrel resting on rocks. Photo: NPS/Debbie Martinez

Lying flat exposes as lot of the squirrel’s body surface ar to the cooler surface ar so the heat have the right to be moved from the squirrel come the ground. This strategy of to reduce the squirrel’s warm load is dubbed ‘heat dumping’.

Squirrels will uncover tree limbs, shaded pavement, and other surface that room cooler compared to the neighboring air to press their underbellies against. The fur on the squirrel’s belly is thinner contrasted to the thicker fur on the external belly.

Squirrels Lie flat to Rest

Lying level in a tree once resting helps stop the squirrel from falling the end of the tree.

The prone posture also provides the sleeping squirrel with some protection from predators through camouflaging itself versus the bark of the tree.