Wall-climbing Squirrels

The other day when I was walking, I saw something I’d never seen before and almost couldn’t believe: a squirrel scurrying across the front face of a neighbor’s stucco house. When I told my husband, he was equally amazed, and the members of my ballet class were so incredulous that I almost began to doubt the evidence of my own eyes.

How could this be, I wondered? Squirrels, although they can climb the rough bark of trees, don’t have claws like cats. My ballet instructor, who has had pet squirrels, confirmed that their claws are more like those of a dog or rabbit (some online research indicates that they can get quite sharp, however). And they certainly don’t have adhesive pads like a lizard.

I still don’t know how it’s possible, but a Google search for “squirrel climbing wall” turns up plenty of video evidence of this phenomenon. Judging from this evidence, it is rare enough to surprise those who see it: many of the observers were startled into rather profane utterances, making most of the videos unsuitable for viewing by those with tender ears. Indeed, given the evident rarity of the sight, it’s interesting that so many observers happened to have a video camera handy. But all of them immediately realized they were seeing something unusual. One even commented that the sight was “definitely YouTube quality.” Several described the squirrel as “crazy” or “daft,” and there were inevitable allusions to Spiderman.

The bottom line, though, is that squirrels do seem to be able to navigate across vertical brick, stucco, and rough concrete surfaces, but they do it infrequently enough to surprise people when they do it. Here are some of the best of the videos I turned up:

This is the first one I found. The photographer is audibly amazed (and envious).

This one is very poor video quality but definitely shows the squirrel in rapid motion.

The photographer who filmed this one was evidently intrigued with the squirrel’s “barking,” and you have to watch the video for some time before the squirrel moves, but when it does, it’s pretty impressive.

I think the wall in this one is concrete or stucco, but it could conceivably be some rough wood product.

Very poor-quality video, and again rather slow starting, but impressive movement nonetheless.

This squirrel got the dog’s attention!

This one is more like climbing a tree, since the squirrel is climbing up the corner of the house rather than a flat face, but it’s still impressive.

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