Like other rodents, squirrels can damage electrical wiring by chewing on it if they get into your attic. This causes a fire hazard by removing the insulation from the wires. You should call for squirrel removal right away if you believe they have gotten into your house. Squirrels running around on the electrical wires outside your home pose less of an immediate danger. However, you might wonder how they manage to touch those uninsulated, live wires without getting electrocuted.
How Do Squirrels Walk on Power Lines?
Electricity flows from a high level to a low level, and it always takes the shortest, most direct path available for it to take. There is a reason why a sudden surge of electricity flowing where it isn’t supposed to flow is called a short circuit. The electricity has found a shorter, easier path to follow than the one it is intended to take.
If you were to touch a live wire while standing on the ground, it would provide a path for the electricity to travel. Because your body is made mostly of water, which is a conductive material, the current would flow from the point of contact through your body until it reached the ground. Along the way, it would probably cause some physical damage to your body that could prove fatal. This is why electrical wires are hung high in the air, well out of reach.
Squirrels’ bodies are as conductive as humans’ are, but when a squirrel has all its feet on one electrical wire, it is not completing a circuit. The current is flowing through the wire, and going through the squirrel’s body would not get it there any faster. Instead, it would be a detour. Because electricity only takes the path of least resistance, a squirrel on an electrical wire stays safe as long as it does not make contact with any other wire.
This is the same reason that birds can perch safely on overhead wires. Birds can land on the wires from above, while squirrels can leap from trees or buildings. As long as they are completely clear of the grounded object before making contact with the wire, they can touch it in safety. Human beings are told not to touch high-voltage wires because even when suspended in the air by a ladder or scaffolding, there is still a path to the ground for electricity to travel.
Do Squirrels Ever Get Electrocuted?
Most of the time, squirrels stay safe because they only make contact with one wire at a time. If they were to touch one of the other wires, they would cause a short circuit and receive an electrical shock in the process. However, this usually isn’t an issue because the wires are typically strung too far apart for the squirrels to be able to reach both at the same time.
Therefore, squirrels should be fine as long as they remain up on the wire. If they start to climb down the pole, that’s where they can get into trouble. A transformer is a device mounted on an electrical pole that uses electromagnetic induction to transfer electricity from one circuit to another. If a squirrel still has one of its rear feet or its tail in contact with the wire while stepping down to the transformer with its front paw, it will complete a short circuit and allow electricity to flow. This often results in the squirrel’s electrocution and may also damage the transformer.
Call Skedaddle for Milwaukee Squirrel Removal
Since squirrels rarely get a shock, watching them scamper along the electric wires outside your home can be harmless fun. However, if squirrels get into your house, they are no longer harmless, and the situation is far from enjoyable. Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in Milwaukee can remove squirrels and other wild animals from your home safely. Learn more about how we keep squirrels from coming back.