Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

I'm sitting here working and can see electrical lines out my window. The squirrels have been busy running back and forth for a while now. I'm beginning to wonder if they're moving their winter "stash" from one tree to another. Squirrels can be such a pain in the butt when it comes to terrorizing flower beds, and such, but I can't help thinking they're so doggone cute to look at in the winter.

Anyway, are squirrels somehow "grounded" from electrocution?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 11:48 AM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

quite the opposite, they are safe until they ground out on something, then zzZZaaaAAAPPP!!

usually on a transformer or insulator.

birds are safer, less chance of them finding a ground.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 11:49 AM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

I believe it's the opposite... the squirrels aren't touching ground when they're running on the wires, so the electricity doesn't flow through them. When a bird or a squirrel is on the wire, there's no place for electricity to go except back through the wire. So it takes the path of least resistance by staying in the wire.

If a human on an aluminum ladder touches the wire, then the human+ladder represents a path to ground, and the suddenly that human becomes the path of least resistance.

Large birds can be electrocuted by power lines if they touch two different lines with their wings, or if they touch a wire and a section of the power system that is grounded. If they touch only one wire they're fine.

EDIT: Err, opposite of being grounded, not the opposite of what catnip said.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

OK (can you tell I never really paid much attention to that part of science class in school? )
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 12:08 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

yes

If you were light enough to sit on the wire without touching anything else, then you'd be quite safe.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 01:20 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

we usually have quite a few power outages each year caused by squirrels who did not get so lucky.

-steve


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 05:43 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

Ya, I've found a few dead squirrels at the bottom of power poles. Usually it's the transformer that gets them because the wires are close together and they brush up against two, completing the circuit. In fact, once I heard a loud "boom!!" and the power immediately went out. I went to the nearest pole that had a transformer, and yup, there was a dead squirrel on the ground, still warm. I think there were burn marks but my memory isn't giving me a clear enough picture to see them right now.

And it's not only squirrels. Once I found a dead hawk laying on the ground under the pole, and that was sad, because they're such beautiful birds.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 10:15 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

Electrical current only flows where there is a difference of potential. Almost like water flows downhill.
As long as the squirrel has all four paws on one wire, its little body is all at the same electrical potential, or voltage.

That is how high-tension linemen can do repairs on half-million volt power transmission lines hanging off of a helicopter. The power line, lineman, and helicopter are all at the same high voltage.
Scary, huh?

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 10:21 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

Hey John, you must be an electrical/electronics guy. I never hear anyone else referring to voltage as "potential."
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2008, 10:39 PM
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Re: Why is it safe for squirrels to run on electrical lines?

Yeah, Tim, I've done some electron herding in my time.

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