In a true test of our journalistic boundaries, we recently stumbled across a video of a squirrel frozen to a tree and have been debating the veracity of the clip. Is it really a frozen squirrel or just lifelike taxidermy?
The video features a man sporting an Oklahoma Natural Gas beanie, who says “you know it’s cold whenever the squirrels get frozen to the tree.” In the description of the video he says:
I was at work and had just stopped to take a break, when I noticed a squirrel sitting on a tree, but it wasn’t moving. So I got closer and realized it was frozen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I decided I have to snap a couple photos, and make a little video. I felt kind of bad for the little guy.
The video was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma; which, like almost all of the northern United States, has been feeling some icy weather. According to Accuweather, the temperature in Tulsa on January 2nd (when the video occurred) was an icy 25 degrees. The day before that, it was 19 degrees. It was definitely cold enough for an animal to freeze if it was left out.
While it’s technically possible that the squirrel in the clip froze while climbing the tree, it’s also pretty wild. Like us, squirrels are mammals, which means that they’re warm-blooded and can make their own body heat. That’s not the case for all tree dwellers — in Florida the temperatures have dwindled and the cold-blooded iguanas are reportedly freezing and falling from the trees.
There are a few pretty remarkable species that can freeze and come back to life, but that ability is possessed mostly by insects. But the common squirrel does have a relative, the arctic ground squirrel, that can survive temperatures that would freeze any of us. Those animals hibernate and shiver for about 12 hours at a time to keep their body temperature at 98 degrees, according to the National Park Service.