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Is that a raccoon climbing a building?

Raccoon growling

Image from www.stuff.co.nz

Raccoon growling

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Fear of heights is fairly common.

But if you were this raccoon, then you would have some major PTSD.

This now famous raccoon in New Jersey was filmed as he climbed nine stories up a building. A crowd began to form on the balcony as it climbed.

Suddenly, the animal fell backward and off the building! Nine long stories down it went, but miraculously it lived?

Understanding how a raccoon can survive a fall like this is kind of tricky. So I looked at how an animal with almost the same anatomy as a raccoon: a cat.

It may be common knowledge that cats can survive high falls by landing on their feet, but how exactly does that work?

What you might not know is how high these cats can fall from. According to an article by Kyle Hill on sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com, mentions a cat that had fallen 32 stories onto concrete ground. It not only survived, but only suffered a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung and was released from a NYC emergency veterinary clinic only two days later.

Cats use their bodies in order to minimize the force of them hitting the ground. They have a relatively low weight compared to their body’s surface area. This is also true with the raccoon, as he appears to be a skinny little guy.

This diagram shows how a cat falls (Image: wordpress.com)

Cats also fall at a lower speed. This is because they reach terminal velocity quicker than larger animals.

Terminal velocity occurs when the wind resistance pushing upward is equal to the pull of gravity: this is the fastest the object, in this case the raccoon, can fall.

You’ve probably noticed that cats, when falling, land on their feet. The raccoon also does this in the video, which saves its life.

The raccoon also opened out its arms and legs while descending. This causes more drag, which slows down descent. This is similar to how a parachute slows a skydiver.

The muscles on the raccoon also act as a shock absorber. They make the fall less likely to be fatal.

Now that we understand how this coon survived the fall, we ask why? Why was it climbing up the building.

While that answer will never be revealed, it is known that this is not the first occurrence of this. Meet the Minnesota Raccoon:

This daredevil takes a break while climbing up a building (Image: nytimes.com)

This small raccoon was seen climbing buildings in St. Paul, Minnesota back in June. First, she climbed all the way up a two story building.

I guess that wasn’t enough for the small raccoon, as she began climbing the 25-story skyscraper, and within a few minutes, she was already over five stories up. She would climb, then rest at a windowsill, and then climb again.

She ended up at around the 20th floor! But then, the quest to save the coon begun for the Minnesotans: they couldn’t just let the poor animal fall.

That night, the raccoon was found on the roof of the 25th story, inside a safe trap placed with cat food and lots of water.

It might look very out of place to see these animals climbing up buildings like they are. This is because raccoons are only supposed to climb up about 20-30 foot trees. Seeing them climb skyscrapers is a true sight, and one we probably will never see again.

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About the Writer
Ryan Hill '20, Staff Writer

“My philosophy is basically this. And this is something that I live by. And I always have. And I always will. Don't ever, for any reason, do anything...

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Is that a raccoon climbing a building?