You may have heard the term “squirrel play dead” and wonder if it actually happens. Fortunately, the answer is no. The squirrels you see in your yard are not playing dead. Instead, they may be doing something similar to ward off predators or to get a good sunbathe. In any case, they are not acting dead in the traditional sense of the word. The following are some reasons why they might be acting dead.
Why Squirrels Play Dead
When squirrels feel threatened, they may suddenly feel uneasy and lay flat in their nest. They may appear glassy-eyed and unresponsive and may need to be rescued. When approached, they may jump up and disappear. In some cases, they will even make a strange noise.
However, this is not a sign of a more serious condition. If you see a squirrel playing dead, you should immediately take it to a veterinarian to get the proper treatment.
Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about your pet’s wellbeing. Squirrels do not play dead, they just hibernate. This means that they do not respond to external stimuli and are not aware of their surroundings.
As such, they do not pose a threat to human beings and may even be dangerous. If you see a dead or injured squirrel, the best option is to call your veterinarian or take it to the zoo.
Read Also: Why Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?
Although this behavior may look frightening, if you have seen a dead or hurt squirrel, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The squirrel will not respond to touch or loud noises, and may even show signs of illness. If you spot a sick or injured squirrel, try to help it.
Remember, squirrels are wild animals and are not accustomed to human interaction. You can try to rescue it by wrapping it in a towel and calling a veterinarian.
Squirrels do not play dead, but they are not in a position to respond to human contact. They slow their breathing and heart rates to almost nothing and will not react to loud noises and touch.
The best way to deal with a sick or injured squirrel is to take it to a vet right away. In addition to playing dead, a squirrel that is in the act of hibernating will not respond to your touch.
While you might assume that a dead squirrel is unconscious, you should avoid touching it. In addition to avoiding contact, do not approach the dead squirrel. It might be injured or dead, and you can try to rescue it with a towel.
When it is cold, it is difficult to reach the squirrel, and it will not respond to your touch. You can make noises to attract it back to you, but keep it at a distance from your pet.
While it is rare for squirrels to play dead, they do display certain behaviors that can make them look dead. They do not respond to sounds and touch and will appear to be dead when it is in a state of shock.
During the winter months, the animal will not respond to loud noises or touch. If you do see a squirrel playing with a towel, take it to a vet as soon as possible.
When a squirrel is about to die, it can sense something is wrong. If it has been attacked or has fallen from a tree, it may be in shock. When this occurs, it is wise to leave the area, but if you see it lying down on the ground, the animal is probably already dead.
When a squirrel plays dead, it is not awake, but it is still alive. If a pet is suffering from a sickness or an injury, it should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Unlike other animals, squirrels do not play dead. They are usually asleep when they hibernate. They are unable to breathe and therefore, they can only move a few feet at a time. But their serpentine patterns work against their predators. They will not move if they do not hear a car.
They will remain in a fixed position for 30 minutes and may be completely unresponsive for a couple of days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Squirrels play dead?
Instead of playing dead, they freeze and stay still
How do you know if a squirrel is in shock?
If a squirrel is in shock, it may exhibit listlessness, tremors, and an increased heart rate.
What types of animals play dead?
Eastern Hognose Snake
Do chipmunks play dead?
Couple of tests were carried out on chipmunks and it was discovered that they do play dead when they are in danger. They always bring out the smartness in them.
Can you scare a squirrel to death?
A study on red squirrels brought it to the fore that they can nerve themselves to death, and that any animal could fright itself to death.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.