Squirrels are recognized by their bushy tails as their distinguishing characteristic makes them look attractive.
What Happens If a Squirrel Loses Its Tail? If a squirrel loses its tail, it becomes difficult to perform multiple functions because it helps in communication, defense, and maintenance of balance. Moreover, they cannot swim as it helps in gliding over the water. Furthermore, they can also die in old weather as hair tufts on tails help them regulate temperature and keep them warm.
Squirrel tails are not only improving their appearance but play vital roles in their life; that’s why many challenges will be encountered, including the risk of survival if a squirrel loses its tail.
Why does a squirrel lose its tail?
Multiple environmental and genetic factors are involved in the loss of tails or fluffy appendages, as they can get a disease or be involved in a severe accident.
Squirrels keep climbing from one tree to another and navigate in the surrounding areas to find food.
There are chances of accidents after a collision with a car when it is moving on a busy road.
In addition, they can fall off a tree branch when trying to jump between trees or sitting on an unbalanced nest.
They attain a parachute shape by extending their limbs outwards to avoid the extent of damage to their bodies when they fall from a height.
However, their tails can break off partially or completely when they fall with great force, and their body parts get poorly injured.
Many squirrels fight with each other to build dominance and protect their food and territory from the attack of their fellows belonging to different regions.
Such fights are commonly seen during winter when they suffer from food scarcity. They try to catch tails and use their claws as a defense resulting in the loss of hair tufts from their bodies.
Moreover, these can get stuck between narrow spaces when they are chasing to attack each other. Some of them become aggressive and try to kill by biting on their bodies badly.
This way, they can lose hair tufts, and their skin is exposed, which poses a difficulty in survival as hair helps regulate body temperature.
Attack of animals like dogs and larger birds, including hawks and falcons, can make squirrels lose their limbs and fluffy appendages.
They use fluffy appendages covered with hair to communicate with their fellows to inform them about the risk of attack. Moreover, it can help show aggressive behavior towards predators and be used in defense.
Accordingly, they are usually a target of attack by the ferocious animals when they try to catch these fast-running animals.
They can attack the tip leading to a minimum hair loss, but can also remove a chunk from the middle end of the tail.
Furthermore, their bodies can heal wounds, but these little animals can’t regrow their broken appendages having hair once they have lost them.
They can lose all tail hair gradually due to attacks of infectious agents like fungi or bacteria on their skin.
It probably occurs due to various fungal diseases and manages, resulting in complete hair loss. A severe fungal attack leaves the bare skin patches after breaking the tufts of hair.
A good diet can help them recover from fungal attacks; otherwise, they will lose it completely.
In the same way, some microscopic mites can enter deep inside the skin of fox and grey squirrels and cause a disease known as mange.
Healthy adult animals can cope with the mange disease if there is a mild infestation, but it can be fatal in severe conditions.
What happens when a squirrel loses its tail?
There is a risk of death in squirrels when they have lost tails because it is essential to perform multiple functions.
Poor regulation of temperature
Tails of squirrels provide shelter to their bodies, particularly in winter when there is cold outside. In addition, it can help cover the bodies to reduce the direct contact of their bodies with cold air.
Moreover, it can also help regulate temperature because these warm-blooded animals need warmth to survive at low temperatures.
These can also keep their bodies at a warm temperature by providing a good cover.
So, it becomes challenging for these little animals to survive without it as they will die in winter due to poor regulation of body temperature.
They make different sounds, like grinding or chittering, to communicate with other animals. They can also move or flick bushy tails to convey a message to their fellow.
A waving and flickering back end indicates the risk of attack and acts as an alarm signal to notify nest members to be ready to fight for survival.
The baby squirrels are also trained to wag their hair-covered appendages on the back end when they detect an alarming situation and get scared by the predators. It alerts the adult ones that can come to protect them.
Therefore, they have to suffer from poor communication as the only way to inform their fellows will be noises or calls.
Loss of balance
Squirrels need to maintain balance as they are involved in activities like jumping and climbing that can get worse without balance.
They have to make quick turns, run fast, move from one tree to another, and even need balance to take rest in their nests.
Moreover, it is challenging for them to stay at the tree tops without having a supportive tail.
So, they can fall down with a serious hit on the ground because they do not have fluffy appendages to slow down and maintain balance while falling to reduce the onset of injuries.
Unable to swim
They can swim using their tails to maintain a particular body position that helps glide their bodies over water. They are not afraid of water like other animals living on land.
However, they do not prefer to swim as they are land animals and prefer to remain in dry areas or areas with trees.
They prefer to swim only when there is no other option to survive from the predator or get food across the river. Then, they use it for a doggy paddle that helps in swimming.
Furthermore, they cannot swim in water as their doggy paddle will be missing, which helps maintain direction in the water.
Can a squirrel regrow its tail?
Squirrel tails have no regenerative properties and cannot regrow if they lose the tail. As a result, some predators attack the chunk of their fluffy appendages and remove hair.
Many squirrels can heal quickly, but it depends on the type of their injury.
However, aggressive killers can make their bony tails clear and remove all the hair that cannot regrow. They are prone to death after losing it as they get exposed to the environment.
Furthermore, they can live for a short time in this case, as this loss of a fluffy appendage can be fatal for them.
Effects of bad weather, risk of falling, and loss of communication can prove deadly for them as they cannot perform vital functions of their lives.