Can Squirrels Swim? (And Can They Drown?)


Who knew Squirrels could swim? Most people are clueless about whether these tiny creatures can do it. But the simple answer is- yes. Squirrels can swim in need, but they are not exceptional at it. The species of the Squirrels also play a significant role in deciding the way they swim.

Whole Gray, Fox, and Red Squirrels can swim by using the tails as a rudder; flying squirrels may not be so good at it. Their gliding webbing usually causes them tremendous hassles while swimming underwater. Their flaps prevent them from pushing the water away correctly. Such a situation causes them numerous troubles underwater, and that is why they try to avoid it as far as they can.

Although squirrels are not the best at swimming, you may find them near the lakes and across ponds quite often. While swimming, they use the dog paddle technique to swim from one place to another. But these agile animals can indeed be fun to watch when they are underwater.

You can find squirrels swimming in ponds, streams, lakes and even in flooded areas temporarily. The North American Grey Squirrels are known to be travelling up to two miles at a time. Can you believe it? Here is more about how Squirrels like or dislike water.

Do Squirrels Like Water?

Although Squirrels use water for drinking, bathing and swimming, they may not be entirely fascinated by it. It is fair to say that they may not like water because there are numerous reasons to support it. For starters, the fact that most squirrels have a difficult time swimming underwater gives them utmost inconvenience. The Flying Squirrel is one such example.

Secondly, you will not spot Squirrels near water for no reason at all. Usually, they dive underwater and prefer to swim when in need. When they are being chased by animals or looking for food, they may accidentally fall underwater. Sometimes, they may even swim across to migrate from one location to another. Thus, they merely use water during the direst of times.

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In many cases, Squirrels may also have to migrate in search of a new home. That is when you may find them swimming for a longer time when in need. But the only squirrel that may seem to be enjoying water bodies is the famous water-skiing Squirrel. Naturally, they love spending time in the water because that is what they are born for!

Can Squirrels Drown?

Usually, Squirrels are intelligent animals. When they swim underwater, they focus on their swimming skills as they are not very good at it. However, in some cases, some possibilities may cause accidental drowning amidst squirrels.

There have been several cases of squirrels being drowned on purpose by humans to perform experiments or get rid of them in recent times. It is said that soaking them underwater will cause their death within 30 seconds to 5 minutes approximately.

Recently, Norris Athey, a wildlife campaigner who drowns grey squirrels to reduce their control, said it was one of the humane ways to do that. “I submerged this grey squirrel for a few seconds in the water, and it was dead within 30 seconds.”, he stated. “Of approximately 250 greys that I have killed, that has been the quickest method. Normally, it can take one to three minutes.”

They may also drown in pools as Squirrels may find them extra challenging for themselves. That is why they find dry land better than waters where drowning risks may be pretty high. It has also been reported that when the water is rough, Squirrels may have a high chance of drowning.

How Fast Can Squirrels swim?

Squirrels are not great swimmers, but their speed is good to some extent. Many squirrels have been recorded to swim at a pace of two miles at a time. But how fast they swim can also depend on how they are swimming and whether it is convenient for them.

However, their speed may potentially increase when an animal is chasing them, or they want to migrate to a place quickly. But the biggest challenge for them is that they find it challenging to use their gliding webbing for swimming properly for a long time. That is why they may swim slowly and inconveniently.

How Long Can Squirrels Swim?

Squirrels can swim for a long time underwater, but they may face innumerable difficulties due to their gliding webbing and other rudder features. Since they even migrate from one place to another via water, they may swim for a very long time. But they do ultimately get exhausted and need a place to rest.

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Most people often mistake Squirrels for muskrats as they look pretty similar to one another. These Muskrats are incredible swimmers as they spend all their life underwater. They may be between 18 to 25 inches and are excellent swimmers. Thus, many researchers make the mistake of thinking that squirrels are impeccable at swimming. But that is not true.

Muskrats have a unique respiratory system that allows them to remain underwater for as long as 15 minutes straight. But you can differentiate between a muskrat and a squirrel by looking at their body shape. That is a bit different for sure. Generally, they look like a big russet potato.

One time, a red squirrel was even filmed trying to swim across a lake, but it felt exhausted after 300 miles into it. So, you can imagine that they cannot remain for long underwater after all.

How Long Can a Squirrel Live Without Water?

Like any other animal on this Planet, even Squirrels require water for survival. It is a significant aspect of their daily lives as they use it for swimming, drinking, bathing, and even pregnancy. Although Squirrels do not need more water than humans, they may require them in some amount.

As per sources, squirrels drink plenty of water during the summers to keep themselves hydrated. Typically, they can survive without food for around 5 to 8 days, but they need water on an everyday note for drinking. However, when Squirrels perform hibernation during the winters, they do not require water. Thus, it can hibernate for up to 8 months without any food or water at all.

For swimming and bathing purposes, it is entirely different for these creatures. Since Squirrels are mostly dry land fans, they do not like the idea of swimming quite often. Thus, they can survive without that for a long time until they need to swim for some important reason. The reasons could vary from migration, food searching, safety reasons and more.

During winters, Squirrels may even eat snow to keep themselves hydrated, as finding water during such times becomes a difficult task for them in many countries. That is because many oceans, lakes and other water bodies freeze, leaving them with no water to drink. So, they feed on ice to stay hydrated.

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So, if you find a squirrel nearby, you can always help them find water by giving at least one bowl of water near a tree. They will surely make use of it properly.

4 Quick Ways To Get Rid of Squirrels

Squirrels are generally agile animals that keep jumping and moving from here to there. However, sometimes this can become a pain for a lot of people who find it annoying. Thus, there are several ways one can use to get rid of squirrels without causing them too much harm.

1. Sprinkle a dash of Cayenne

Squirrels can make your garden a living hell by preying on all the plants. After a point, you may even find your gardener giving up. But that is not a permanent solution. Sprinkling cayenne pepper is an excellent way to track these tiny creatures into believing that the fruits and vegetables may not be a tasty treat for them as they are so hot and spicy.

2. Apply fencing or netting

Netting or fencing are both incredible ways of keeping Squirrels at bay. If you find them acting notoriously around your household, these can serve as the best barriers for them. Thus, it will become exceedingly difficult for them to cross them and disturb you again.

3. Pet a dog

Dogs usually scare Squirrels away like a maniac. So, you can be sure that once these tiny creatures leave because of them, they are not coming back. So, why keep waiting? Pet a dog and watch them do the job for you.

4. Seal the trash cans

Open trash cans can attract Squirrels in enormous numbers because of all the leftover food and packets. That is why it is safe to keep them sealed to shove the Squirrels off and give them no reason to disturb your environment.

Bottom Line

Squirrels can be entirely tough to deal with, but they are undoubtedly cute and adorable. Make sure you do not harm them in any way. If you want to keep them at bay, all you have to do is use these tricks to do the same. It always works!

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