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Natural World: The Super Squirrels, BBC Two review - silliness and facts | reviews, news & interviews

Natural World: The Super Squirrels, BBC Two review - silliness and facts

Natural World: The Super Squirrels, BBC Two review - silliness and facts

Gleeful take on overlooked rodent family

A flexible ankle joint allows squirrels to run headfirst down tree© BBC/Seawhisper/Shutterstock

Squirrels are a breed as diverse as they are ubiquitous: they inhabit environments as extreme as desert and tundra, and all the lush greenery, rainforest and urban jungle imaginable between. So bless the producers of The Super Squirrels who humorously avoid a straight-down-the-line profile of the nearly 300 species around the world and instead showcase their not inconsiderable abilities through a series of gleeful reality TV piss-takes.

We’re guided through the squirrel family by enthusiasts and academics, each of whom seems to have absorbed some of the characteristics of their quick-limbed subjects. We meet Dr Delgado of University of California Berkeley sporting a kooky squirrel t-shirt and drilling holes into nuts to track where the university’s locals bury them (a behaviour called scatter hoarding) and Dr Burns of Siena College New York who spends his time in a darkened lab testing the mechanics squirrels’ leaps to ascertain how they can absorb the equivalent of about fifteen body weights on impact after leaping the human equivalent of two buses.

The Malabar giant squirrel lives in the forests of India © Sadesh Kadur/Felis ImagesSheelagh, of the Scottish SPCA, is also a specialist. She collects squirrel cushions and looks less squirrel-like. In a section reminiscent of 24 Hours in A&E, she nurses a red squirrel orphan back to health in her own home, and when baby squirrel Annie also comes under her care, the socially awkward youngsters nuzzle and compete in behaviour reminiscent of First Dates featuring awkward young professionals. But competition is not merely between individual squirrels. We also meet Doug, whose Wipeout-inspired obstacle course is easily conquered by a male grey. Curiously, having been outwitted by a rodent, he nevertheless appears to identify with the winner and takes sincere vicarious pleasure in its victory feast of nuts.

After ascertaining their agility, speed, and enviable ability to sleep through winter, the question remains: which is the most fabulous? The stately tufted Malabar Giant Squirrel which loses in a face-off to a Lion-tailed Macaque over a jack fruit, or the nocturnal Northern flying squirrel which spreads its extravagant cape to glide up to 45m between trees on the hunt for fungi? If only RuPaul would adjudicate.

The socially awkward youngsters nuzzle and compete in behaviour reminiscent of First Dates

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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