General Question

troubleinharlem's avatar

Why do squirrels tend to climb trees in circular patterns?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7981points) December 22nd, 2009

Why can’t they just climb up straight like normal mammals?

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27 Answers

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CyanoticWasp's avatar

Normal mammals like dogs, for example, who don’t climb trees?

Or normal mammals like bats, who fly around trees and don’t have much to do with them as a rule?

Or normal mammals like monkeys, who swing from trees and climb the branches?

Squirrels climb trees like… well… like squirrels, dammit. What’s abnormal about that?

Bagardbilla's avatar

If I had to guess I’d say it’s because if a hawk or another bird of pray were to attack it from a certain direction it would be much harder for it to catch it if the Squirrel was circuling the tree as oppose to going straight up?
just a guess

troubleinharlem's avatar

@CyanoticWasp ; D: Don’t over-analyze my question, I’m seriously curious. =/

Facade's avatar

Maybe it’s easier to go up a tree at a slight angle than going straight?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@troubleinharlem, okay then. The simple answer is that they climb trees the way squirrels do that.

This reminds me of a software training class I took several years ago. The instructor told us on the first day of an intensive six-week class that “I can tell you all kinds of things about this software and how to do a lot of things with it. But I didn’t develop the software or the business rules that it attempts to model and follow. So I won’t answer any question about this software that begins with ‘Why…?’ That’s a philosophical question that I won’t address.” And for six weeks he almost never did.

I suspect that squirrels circle trees as they climb because:
1. They can, and
2. It keeps them from being surprised by something else that might be in the tree above them.

That’s why I would do it, I suppose. But I’m not a squirrel.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please save the jokes until after a few serious answers have been given. Thanks!

Miles's avatar

It sounds like @Facade is right. It’s like climbing a spiral staircase vs. climbing a ladder. It’s easier to take a longer path at less of an incline.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Climbing in a spiral pattern enables squirrels to look out for predators in all directions. That is the main reason. I assure you they are strong enough to climb straight up so that is unlikely to be the reason for the spiral pattern.

XOIIO's avatar

Lol big streak of removed ones there!

I think that it may have to do with the force that is generated. At that speed there may be some centrifugal (me it minor, but some) force that helps then stay on the tree at high speeds.

avvooooooo's avatar

Because they’re evil.


Fluthermucker's avatar

There are no square trees. Since trees are round, it makes sense that they would have to use a circle. Yep…I’m a smart-ass. Sue me.

faye's avatar

I’ve seen them go straight up as well.

Shemarq's avatar

Cuz they are just cute! ;-)

lillycoyote's avatar

I suspect the squirrels have more than a few questions for us too. Live and let live. Plus, squirrels are very playful animals. Maybe it’s just more fun.

avvooooooo's avatar

@lillycoyote I had some that were spying on me. Trying to catch me nekkid! Squirrels are evil.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@lillycoyote, I’m seriously liking all of that answer.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lillycoyote I have been my private squirrel war in my back yard for years. There are a number of issues at stake, the main one being are they or are they not entitle to turn my bird feeders into automatic seed dispensers for themselves. Squirrel proof bird feeders? No such thing, though I did have one that it took them about 6 months to crack. I imagined them gathering in their “war room”, lots of Powerpoint presentations, but finally they cracked it. They eventually had to train a special brigade to leap from from the trunk of the tree and knock the bird feeder off the hook, so the seed spilled to the ground. I don’t think they are evil but they are very, very clever. And determined.

XOIIO's avatar

@lillycoyote Why did you respong to yourself?

And you can make a squirrel proof bird feeder, just have a concave dish at the top of the pole underneath the feeder, so they can’t climb up it.

lillycoyote's avatar

@XOIIO I don’t know why I responded to myself. My synapses may have been misfiring, I may have hit the wrong user, myself, with my mouse, I may have been possessed by demons at the time, who knows? I hope to god it was only a “mistake.” I make them sometimes. Or else, perhaps, I’ve gone hopelessly insane!!!! OMG! And no, no such thing as a squirrel-proof bird feeder, not with my squirrels. They are diabolically clever, nothing I have tried has worked, trust me. Nothing. Climbing, scurrying up and down the tree, leaping, flying, flying and leaping and hanging upside down, chewing through plastic, through metal. NOTHING STOPS THEM!!! NOTHING!!! You must have very docile, unambitious squirrels where you live, if all it takes is a concave dish on a pole to keep them away from your bird feeder.

XOIIO's avatar

Ah… So they have the jetpacks?

lillycoyote's avatar

@XOIIO I think so. Maybe it’s just Delaware squirrels or maybe just the ones that find their way into my yard but I am convinced that they have a pretty good arsenal of advanced technology. There’s no other way that they could circumvent each and every thing that I have tried to stop them. I will admit that I have never actually seen them wearing jetpacks, but if I did, or learned that they used them when I wasn’t looking, I wouldn’t be surprised. I think they may also have a number of small smart missiles, that they have aimed to go directly through any part of the bird feeders that might prevent them from accessing the bird feed. Can they actually chew through metal? I didn’t think so but they have gotten through it. How else could they do it without some sort or ordnance? You tell me.

XOIIO's avatar

Well, it started out as a government project, I can’t tell you much, but some squirrels realised that they could escape, and used the very things we built to kill everyone at the lab. Yes, they do have jetpacks, but mainly rely on grapple hooks. They also do have missiles, but as far as we know they are not active. The only problem is that intel has gathered that they are mating and producing intelligent offspring, and that they are learning more and more. The world will not end with a bang, but with a nibble. A NIBBLE OF DEATH

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