Friday, February 24, 2017

How do squirrels hang upside down on a tree trunk?

Did you ever wonder how squirrels are able to hang upside down on tree trunks? No, neither did I until my wife happened to mention it the other day. It was only then I started to question how they actually do that.
Like many other rodents, squirrels are well-adapted to scramble up trees with their super-sharp claws and big bushy tail for balance. It also helps that they are very light, and have a very strong grip, allowing them to hold on well at a variety of different angles.
But, unlike other rodents, you often also see them shinning DOWN trees head first, or even just hanging there by their back legs. And, when you stop and think about it, their feet and claws should be the wrong way round to let them do that.
It turns out that the squirrels' secret is super-flexible ankle joints. They can rotate their ankles fully 180°, so that they can hang from a vertical tree trunk with their bodies pointing one way and their feet the other.
Pretty neat. And apparently not at all painful.

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