Squirrels are agile animals. They can easily scurry up a tree or fence. Flying squirrels can even leap great distances through the air. While squirrels can perform many amazing feats their ability to swim is something that doesn’t get much publicity.
Squirrels are not great swimmers but can swim when needed. Gray, Fox and Red squirrels can swim a doggy paddle stroke using their tails as a rudder. Flying squirrels are much weaker swimmers as their gliding webbing is a hindrance in the water.
Squirrels Can Perform a Doggy Paddle
Similar to most land mammals, most squirrels can dog paddle through the water. Sometimes they use their tails to help steer. While squirrels are not efficient swimmers you can often spot them swimming across lakes and other large bodies of water.
Performing the dog paddle requires a lot of energy to travel a short distance.
Not all squirrels can make it across the water. While the typical gray, black or red squirrel can paddle, the webbing that allows flying squirrels to glide hinders their swimming. The flaps prevent them from pushing water past their bodies with a standard paddle motion.
Why Would a Squirrel Swim?
If squirrels tire easily when swimming then why do they swim? Squirrels rarely swim unless they have a good reason. Squirrels may accidentally end up in the water, get chased by other animals, or go looking for food. Sometimes crossing the water is simply the easiest way to their destination.
Squirrels may also swim when migrating. Throughout history, people have reported seeing mass groups of squirrels swimming across lakes and rivers. These migrations often happen after a surplus of food.
When squirrels have an abundance of acorns, they reproduce in greater numbers. The following year, there are too many squirrels in the area, forcing many to go in search of a new home. In some cases, they may need to cross a body of water during this migration.
How to Get a Squirrel Out of a Pool
While squirrels can swim, pools present an extra challenge. The slippery surfaces on the sides of the pool may make it difficult for the squirrel to get out of the pool. Swimming tires squirrels out quickly. When they cannot get out of the pool or rest, they may drown.
If you find a squirrel in your pool, you may attempt to help it out. Using a pool net, scoop the squirrel up and step backward from the pool. Place the net over the ground and allow the squirrel to scurry away.
When using the pool net, the squirrel may attempt to run along the pole. As it scurries directly toward you, do not be alarmed. Squirrels want to avoid contact as much as you do. The squirrel should jump for dry land as soon as it clears the pool.
Another option is to contact your local wildlife agency. In some regions, they may charge a fee for this visit. However, they come prepared to deal with any situation and should have no problem getting the squirrel out of your pool.
If you find a dead squirrel in your pool, you should contact your local agency to remove the animal. However, the dead squirrel should not pose a health risk to the swimmers. Chlorine should kill any germs or bacteria left by the squirrel.
Last Thoughts on Swimming Squirrels
While squirrels can swim, most do not prefer the activity. They may only end up in the water if necessary. For example, they may need to cross a small stream to reach the other side or get chased by a predator.
Squirrels are agile. However, it is still possible for a squirrel to fall from a tree and land in a pool or body of water. If you do find a squirrel in distress, you may attempt to help it or contact your local wildlife agency.