Hypermobile Squirrels

Squirrels are one of the few animals that can descend a tree head first.  Hypermobility is a condition that describes where joints stretch farther than normal.  Colloquially, when this condition is present, it is also referred to as being double-jointed.

The hypermobile back feet of squirrels allows them to hang upside down while foraging for food, like this Eastern Gray squirrel at a bird feeder. Photo: Victoria Porter.

The hypermobile back feet of squirrels allows them to hang upside down while foraging for food, like this Eastern Gray squirrel at a bird feeder. Photo: Victoria Porter.

One of the few mammals with this condition, Squirrels are double-jointed in their rear legs and can turn them around in order to hang down from trees upside down.  The ability to anchor their back feet allows squirrels to stretch out their forearms and grab on to adjoining branches or bird feeders.

This condition also gives squirrels their agility in racing up and down trees.

An American red squirrel heading face first down a tree. Photo: Gilles Gonthier.

An American red squirrel heading face first down a tree. Photo: Gilles Gonthier.


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