Do Squirrels Use Their Tails As Umbrellas

Spread the love

We have seen squirrels use their tails for balance while jumping from one tree to another. It helps them make quick sharp turns and rest on different tree branches, but do squirrels use their tails as umbrellas?

Yes, squirrels use their tails as umbrellas! It will be interesting to know that squirrels are masters of adapting to various weather conditions. During the rainy weather, squirrels use their tails to make an umbrella.

A squirrel can also wrap around the same tail as a towel to protect itself from cold. In this article, you will read more about what purposes squirrels use their tails for.

Squirrel Tail Position Meaning

The tail’s position indicates whether to stay away from a squirrel or approach. A squirrel uses their tails as waving flags for signaling. They inform their neighboring squirrels about impending danger. This way, they can quickly leap to safety within the time limit.

A squirrel’s tail is grizzly, long, and bushy. It uses for climbing, leaping, and scampering from one tree to another. In winters, the squirrels wrap their tails around themselves like a blanket. The air spaces between the hairs trap the air and keep the squirrel warm.

Besides this, a squirrel uses its tail to shield itself during heat or rainy weather conditions. For communication, a squirrel uses movements like waving, wagging, and flicking. A squirrel also fluffs up as a sign of aggression or agitation.

Like other animals, squirrel uses their tails as a sign of communicating with the other gender during mating season. They either wave their tails or shiver to gain the attention of their mates. The other male squirrel replies with some intricate movements, and if the female is impressed by it, they come closer together.

What Do Squirrels Use Their Tails For?

A squirrel can use its tail for several purposes, for instance, showing affection. If a squirrel is licking its tail, it means it is showing affection. A squirrel best expresses itself by using its tail.

If you see a squirrel wagging its tail, that can also mean it is heating it to warn other animals.

For example, if rattlesnakes are in the vicinity, the squirrels wag their tails to heat it so that the snakes’ infrared sensors can notice this particular movement. This also highlights that squirrels are alert and will flee should the snakes get any closer to them.

A squirrel is fond of the food items it collects, seeds and nuts. After finding their favorite food, many squirrels store it away for the cold weather conditions. That is why a squirrel wags its tail to war the other squirrels away, as it does not want fellow squirrels to come and take its food away.

However, every time the tail movement should not be interpreted the same way as the squirrels also wag their tails if someone comes very close to their babies.

Why Do Squirrels Put Their Tails Up?

Squirrels do this to protect themselves from predators. If you come across a squirrel with its tail up, you will realize that its silhouette appears in such a way that it seems its head is looking backward.

A squirrel also puts its tail upwards to let other squirrels know they have encroached on some other animal’s territory. A squirrel can also put its tail up and then fluff it up. It is usually considered a sign of aggression.

This position can also be used for sending a signal to other squirrels. Once a squirrel has its tail upwards and starts twitching it, it has detected danger and is warning the other squirrels to stay away from a particular area.

This is usually done to steer clear of ground predators like dogs or cats. This helps squirrels change their direction and run the other way round. Most of them climb trees to avoid predator attacks. The shaking of the tail can indicate that a squirrel is upset and has run out of options to escape.

Do Squirrels Use Their Tails To Climb?

Yes, squirrels use their tails to climb all the way up to trees and other surfaces. Flying squirrels make use of their tails for controlling their angle of descent particularly. This does not only help them in climbing trees but also in descending them.

So how does a squirrel make use of its tail to climb up a tree and jump from one tree to another?

A squirrel has very sharp claws that allow it to have a firm footing while climbing tree trunks. Moreover, a squirrel is agile and uses its head-first position to climb all the way up in no time at all.

A squirrel also has pretty strong double hind legs that allow the squirrel to stick to the tree, make its body upwards, and also from one branch to another one. A squirrel can also wrap its tail around a branch to help it for hanging. This way a squirrel can maintain its balance and prevent itself from falling.

Do Squirrels Use Their Tails As Parachutes?

Squirrels are among such rodents who are well-known for their balance. They can climb up not only the trees but also buildings as well. A squirrel can leap from one branch to another and from a tree to the ground with little or no effort.

A squirrel’s body can use its tail as a parachute during a fall and prevent a squirrel from sustaining any injuries. Their tails help them glide through the air as well.

Moreover, a squirrel can also use its tail to slow down its fall speed. As a result, the impact suffered by a squirrel is minimal.

A tail acting as a parachute also provides a counterweight to the squirrel, helping it regain balance after a fall. Along with their tiny feet, a long tail helps squirrels make sharp turns without falling over.

Many may have seen squirrels run on electrical lines. You should know that it is the bushy tail that allows the squirrel to attain this kind of perfect balance.

Do Squirrels’ Tails Grow Back?

Only a few animals have regenerative properties, and the squirrel is not one of them. A squirrel cannot regrow its tail back to its original length. So, once the ‘bushy’ part from the bushy tail is gone, it is lost forever.

This usually happens whenever a predator attacks a squirrel and pulls off its fur by keeping it clutched between its claws. A predator can also strip the body tail clean of hairs. Even if a tail has been cut off in half, it cannot regenerate.

A squirrel usually does not survive the loss of its tail as the tail protects the squirrel from many external threats like weather conditions and predators. A tail also serves the purpose of signaling and communication with nearby squirrels. Losing a tail is equivalent to losing its life for a squirrel.

Why Are Some Squirrels Tails Not Fluffy?

There are two reasons why some squirrels do not have fluffy tails:

Due to a disease

Some squirrels get attacked by microscopic mites, and this condition is called mange. These mites hide in the squirrel’s skin and remain undetected for the longest time possible. 

As a result, a squirrel starts losing its hair, which is why some squirrels have less fluffy tails than others. 

Fight with an opponent

Sometimes, during a fight with s fellow squirrel, a portion of the squirrel’s tail may be lost. Usually, the tip of the tail is lost. Once a piece has been cut off, the tail can appear less fluffy. 

Does It Hurt When A Squirrel Loses Its Tail?

Yes, it hurts a squirrel when it loses its tail. Like any other animal that loses a limb, squirrels also suffer pain when they lose their tail or a portion of it.

When the tip of the tail is lost, a squirrel also experiences damage to the bone and blood circulation near the base of its tail. This can be fatal for a squirrel, and its survival depends on it. Even if a squirrel survives, it cannot sustain itself solely on this.


A squirrel’s tail can be considered its most important body part, which is used all day long for jumping, climbing, signaling, mating, and gliding. The squirrels can use it as a parachute to lessen the impact of a fall.

However, if a squirrel sustains an injury to its tail and its effectiveness is compromised, a squirrel will not survive for long and will eventually die. That is why it is essential that a squirrel’s tail remains intact and attached to its body.


Feeling the heat: Ground squirrels heat their tails to discourage rattlesnake attack.

Pardo, Michael & Pardo, Scott & Shields, William. (2014). Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) Communicate with the Positions of their Tails in an Agonistic Context. American Midland Naturalist.