Squirrels stopping in the middle of the road can be dangerous, but why do they do this? Why do squirrels stop in the middle of the road?
Squirrels often stop in the middle of the road as a survival tactic. In the wild, this helps keep them safe from predators. These animals have evolved to freeze when a predator approaches then run at 90 degrees to the direction that the predator is going. Predators can’t change direction quickly and thus the squirrel can escape.
If you’re a driver, especially a driver that frequents roads where animals cross, then you have to be extra attentive on the road. Animals can be a real danger on the road for drivers and to themselves. Collisions between animals like squirrels, deer, raccoons and others are an inevitable occurrence.
But why do these collisions happen in the first place? Sometimes it’s because animals stop in the middle of the road. So why do squirrels stop in the middle of the road? This article looks into it. If you’re a squirrel lover, a driver or are simply curious this article is for your
Why do squirrels stop in the middle of the road?
Squirrels stop in the middle of the road as a survival technique. When they see a possible threat they freeze up, these small animals see your car as a potential threat, a predator.
In the wild squirrels have evolved to freeze when a predator approaches then run at 90 degrees to the direction that the predator is going. Predators cannot change direction as quickly as a squirrel can and this allows the squirrel to escape
Unfortunately, this animal does not realize that your car is not a potential threat trying to catch and eat it but rather a car simply driving on the road.
A squirrel will stop in the middle of the road until the car gets close, it will then try to run across the road (at 90 degrees from the direction of the “predator”).
Unfortunately, cars are much faster than predators and thus will sometimes hit the squirrel. Squirrels haven’t evolved to know to stay out of the way completely when a car is approaching.
That being said, squirrels are quite smart and are able to learn. They’ve adapted to survive in urban environments and to thrive in them as well. It’s safe to assume that considering the number of squirrels in urban areas, compared to the small number of squirrel-car accidents, we can assume that not many squirrels are failing to escape being crushed by cars. In fact, in places where squirrel bridges are constructed, squirrels learn to use these bridges rather than crossing busy roads.
Why do squirrels zig zag in front of cars?
This is another way the squirrels avoid predators. The zig-zag motion that squirrels run in works to throw off hawks as they try to swoop in for a squirrel meal.
Running in this pattern makes it difficult for hawks to catch squirrels. This is a great way to dodge birds of prey but not necessarily cars. This zig-zag motion may throw off hawks but it doesn’t make your car change direction. On the upside, it may make you see the squirrel in the road.
Will a squirrel survive being hit by a car?
Squirrels are surprisingly resilient creatures and if hit by a car they won’t necessarily die. They often don’t die if they get hit by a car and can recover and get back into the wild.
If you do hit a squirrel then let it be, in fact, if you do try to get close to it then it will probably promptly get up and try to run away.
That being said, if they cannot recover from their injury, for example, a broken back, then it will become easy prey for a predator and will die that way.
In summary, squirrels stop in the middle of the road as a survival tactic. They have evolved to freeze then run away from predators at the last minute. They think your car is a predator.
They zig-zag in front of cars as a survival tactic as well. This tactic is helpful in avoiding hawks. If a squirrel gets hit by a car it will likely survive so let it be
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other squirrel related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: How do squirrels breathe, why do squirrels eat green pine cones, how do squirrels get calcium in the wild, why do squirrels run away, how do squirrels drink water in the wild, how do squirrels trim their nails