Can Squirrels Swim? Saving Squirrels Stuck In Your Pool

Gurpuneet Kaur
Mar 06, 2023 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Oct 24, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Red Squirrel about to jump in water to Swim to the other side
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.2 Min

Do you ever wonder, how can squirrels swim if they are land (terrestrial) mammals?

Yes, to your surprise, squirrels can swim but are not great swimmers. While squirrels often use water for drinking and bathing, you would not expect a squirrel to swim.

A squirrel is an agile creature that is quite adorable and fun to watch. Squirrels sprint faster than you, but it might be possible for you to outrun a squirrel unless you are Usain Bolt.

Also, squirrels have sharp claws that assist squirrels in grasping branches and bark easily. Therefore, the squirrel is well-adapted for climbing up trees, unlike humans.

Did you know that many squirrels are also capable of flying? Flying squirrels don't actually fly; instead, they glide through the air from tree to tree. Although squirrels can swim, it is pretty challenging for flying squirrels due to their gliding webbing. The webbing that helps the squirrels glide long distances is often a hindrance in the water.

Squirrels may not be great swimmers, but they can swim. The squirrels, specifically the red squirrel, fox squirrel, and gray squirrel, mainly swim with a doggy paddle stroke wherein they use their tail as a rudder. The dog paddle is energy-consuming for squirrels; therefore, they do not swim without good reason.

Sometimes a squirrel might accidentally fall into the water, and many others escape from their predators by swimming across the pools, streams, lakes, or rivers. Also, squirrels have an incredible strategy of running in a zigzag pattern to escape their predators.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about can squirrels eat bread and can squirrels get rabies here on Kidadl?

Why do squirrels drown in pools?

Although squirrels are not great swimmers, they focus on underwater swimming skills as they are quite intelligent. Yet, many squirrels drown due to unfavorable circumstances.

The sides of pools are slippery, and therefore possess a challenge for the squirrels to get out of the pool. Swimming is pretty tiring for the squirrels, and they drown in pools if they cannot get out of the pool quickly or rest on something.

Also, squirrels are prone to drowning in rough water. It is recorded that a squirrel cannot survive more than a few seconds in the water once they become tired.

Do squirrels like water?

Since water is a necessity for all species of animals, squirrels require water for drinking and bathing. Although squirrels can swim, they avoid water unless necessary.

They swim by dog paddle, which is quite energy-consuming and tiring, and they may die by drowning if they do not get to rest. Thus, whether the squirrels like water or not remains a problem better left unanswered!

A squirrel needs at least two teaspoons of water a day to help them digest food and prevent dehydration. The quantity of water consumed also varies according to the body size of a squirrel. While some squirrels die from dehydration within a day, many squirrels survive without water for as long as two days.

Red squirrel swimming

How fast can squirrels swim?

Squirrels, including the Red squirrel, Gray squirrel, and Fox squirrel, are known to dog paddle using their forelegs while using their tail as a rudder. Doggy paddling is a tiring and energy-consuming way of swimming, yet the squirrels are recorded to have good swimming speeds to some extent.

Gray squirrels are sometimes recorded to swim as far as 2 miles (3.2 km).

Squirrels are agile animals with considerable speed. Likewise, according to a search, gray squirrels run at the rate of 20 mph (32 kph).

Can squirrels swim across a river?

Squirrels can swim in various water bodies, including a lake, river, stream, or pond. Thus, a squirrel is known to cross the river, too. While squirrels prefer to stay away from water, even if they land into the lake or river, they easily cross the large bodies even though swimming is quite tiring for squirrels.

Though the answer is yes, a squirrel can swim across a river or lake, but it is not preferable. A squirrel will search for an alternative means to cross the water. Also, a squirrel can easily drown underwater as a tired squirrel often fails to reach back on the land or rest.

Why would a squirrel swim?

Squirrels rarely swim unless they have a good reason. A squirrel may accidentally fall into the water from a tree or run into the water to escape from predators. Rarely, it may end up in the water to look for food.

Sometimes squirrels swim to migrate as it may be the easiest way to reach the destination. Squirrels are found migrating in large groups by swimming across various water bodies such as lakes and streams. Migrations, in the case of squirrels, often take place after a surplus of food.

A twiggy or the water skiing squirrel is the only squirrel to end up in the water without having any good reason. On the contrary, a flying squirrel finds swimming quite challenging, while a tree squirrel swims using a tiring technique of doggy paddling.

How To Get A Squirrel Out Of A Pool

You may spot many wildlife creatures around your pool, and a squirrel could be one of them. The outer pool is quite slippery and can cause a problem for the animal to get out of the pool. Since swimming tires a squirrel, and if it cannot get out of the pool or rest for long, it may drown.

If you find the animal drowning in your pool and cannot get out, use a pool net to scoop it up. Be cautious and avoid any contact as it is a wild creature, and stay away since it might attack you.

Contact your local wildlife agency if it scares you, as they are often ready to deal with every possible situation. Also, if you find a dead animal in your pool, the wildlife agency may assist in getting rid of it.

Do not worry, as the dead animal is not known to pose any health risk for the swimmers. Even if you are unsure, use chlorine to kill any germs or bacteria left in the pool.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for can squirrels swim, then why not take a look at chipmunk vs. ground squirrel or Piute ground squirrel facts?

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Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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