I was looking at the video further down in the thread titled, "cat got my squirrel" and the poster mentions the "death dance" that is observed in the video. He says that the squirrel is "dead" and that the "dance" is just the squirrels nerves going crazy for awhile.
I'm not so sure of that. Seriously, I'm not criticizing his post at all, or the fact that the squirrel didn't die instantly, because a lot of times, they simply don't. I know that.
But, I'm of the opinion that the squirrel in that video was very much alive, for that entire time period after being shot. I don't think he was dead and his nerves were just flopping him around.
I've experienced this type of thing with squirrels myself.
I just think that squirrels are really tough and tenacious little critters and that they can really cling to life unless you hit them in the brain or get a really solid heart/lung shot.
My question to you all is simply whether you "buy in" to the idea that when you witness the so-called "death dance" that you are simply watching a dead squirrel flop around due to it's nervous system still being active somehow. Or, do you agree with me that the squirrel is very much alive and just clinging to life for those last 30 seconds, etc?
Again, I'm not criticizing the poster at all.
But, what is your take on the "death dance?" Nerves? Or just one heck of a tough animal to kill quickly?
This message has been edited by karlw on May 27, 2012 9:54 AM
When I was a Kid ... A Sunday Chicken Dinner ... Was Started on Late Saturday Afternoon
May 27 2012, 11:18 AM
When I was a kid in Edinburgh Texas, on Sundays we usually had chicken. As such, one of my duties and responsibilities was to assist in the capture and killing of a rooster or hen on Saturday. Usually, this was the last chore of the day after feeding the chickens.
After my grandmother selected the right chicken ... I had to catch it. Not always an easy task. After I caught the unlucky bird, I would hand it over to my grandmother - to kill. Sometimes, she would wring the chicken's neck. But, every once in a while she'd dispatch me to retrieve a small hatchet to chop-off the chicken's head.
Either way, I soon was able to expect ... what was to happen ... with either process. After wringing the neck ... the chicken would fall to the ground in a pile and flap its wings while the its head flopped around. After having it's head cut-off ... a chicken might would run around in circles, sometimes in a straight line - then, they'd fall-over. Either way, whatever method ... what was to follow .. was predictable.
It became apparent to me, the killed chickens were not instantaneously dead. They were in the act of dying - the brain was no-longer in control of the body. Most certainly in the case of the decapitated chicken ... what followed was latent nervous activity.
Same kind of thing. When I was a kid my Grandfather had a chicken coop. For Sunday diner he would take a chicken out behind it where there was a stump & axe. Whack, the head would come off and it would run around in cirlces for a little bit and fall over. I'd bring it to my Grandmother who would pluck, gut & clean it. After diner she would take all the bones & leftovers and make soup or chicken stock.
But if it was moving then it was still alive, but dying. 1 of the ones I shot yesterday was a clean headshot with a JSB heavy out of my .22 Disco. He hung upside down from the branch for 4 minutes before he fell, he was just sort of convulsing for a few seconds and that is nerves for sure.
Went again this AM and didn't see a single squirrel??? I guess they figured out I am getting a bit better with my aim now!
Even though they are still moving about I believe that
May 27 2012, 10:30 AM
they are incapacited and no longer in control of their actions. I have watched head shot ground squirrels dance around like that for several seconds right above their own hole and never even try to go down and escape. I even shot one a couple months back that was just sticking his head above his hole. At the shot he tensed up for a couple seconds then pushed himself out of his hole and began the "death dance". So technically they are still living but I think that their movement is just involuntary muscle reactions.
that might still be functioning in the body qualifies the squirrel as being alive. Is it suffering or feel pain during the "death dance"? Who knows, we can't possibly answer that without knowing if either the brain or spinal cord was completely destroyed.
years, I can tell you that the "death dance" is a dead give away, pun intended, that you've made a clean brain shot. I've seen it thousands of times over a 50 year period. California Ground Squirrels especially, when brain shot, are prone to do that. I have completely removed the heads of ground squirrels, with a high velocity PB round like the .220 Swift, and with everything from the shoulders up missing, they will still do the "death dance" for ten seconds. It may still be moving uncontrollably, but no head and no brain = dead squirrel.
Docttors sign a death certificate when brain functions have ceased for some period of time
May 27 2012, 4:50 PM
even if the heart and lungs can be kept functioning artificially. I think having most of the brain removed qualifies as brain dead....it's certainly a quicker death than a predator offers, tearing the animal apart with the brain still attached and functioning.
Through the scope I've watched skull and brain fragments blown out of the back of a ground squirrels skull(25 ft/lb .22)and still seen the GS flop around, sometimes back into the hole.
I hunt California Ground Squirrels like you for about the same time, and most head shot squirrels will do the "Death Dance". Hit then in the neck on the spine and they are down. Good lung shots or abdomen you might see the "Helicopter Tail", always amusing. Pink vapor, well that's a 22-250 at 4000 fps!
This is part of hunting that folks have a hard time excepting for there own reasons. I have no problem with the fact that killing animals with a Bow, Airgun or power burner is not instantaneous.
Over the last 45 years I've killed many animals with a Bow and always had to track the blood trail to recover them. Bow hunters except the fact that there are no Bang Dead shots. I don't understand why airgun hunters have so much trouble with this, could be they don't wont to for fear of reparation.
Hunting is what it is, it gets messy and things die, some faster than others. The fact is if you hit a animal with a small caliber low power .177 pellet and expect it to die instantly you're fooling yourself.
Joe I know grown men with inoperative brains function well enough to hold a Job
May 27 2012, 2:43 PM
LOL worked with many over the years. If you cut a snakes head off the part with the head will still bite you. I don't think in most cases a head shot with a .177 pellet will complete destroy the brain.
My definition of dead is when the heart stops pumping and the animal is not moving. I've made many head shots and have seen some of the most sever bleeding after the shot from the head, this is a good indication the heart is still pumping not nerves.
I think most wont to believe they are making the most humane shot for a instant kill and they are but have a hard time accepting reality.
Bow hunters know with every kill there is Two Hunts, the stalk and tracking the blood trail to recover the animal. We don't shoot for head neck or spine like gun hunters do, it's all about heart, liver, lung, and artery shots. If you consider how big and effective a arrow is and the ability to bring down very large game, why do airgun hunters expect bang dead when we don't.
Really Rich "You either 'have it',...or ya don't."
May 27 2012, 6:52 PM
Rich you're not saying the .177 gets it done as good as the .22 or .25 cal are you?
How do you explain all the outstanding marksman/hunters going to .25 caliber. I think it has more to do with stopping power than anything else. I look at the folks buying the very accurate .25 calibers on the market today and come to the above conclusion, Stopping Power.
The .25 cal. is here to stay as a hunting caliber and I embrace that, I'm not convinced the .177 is a good choice considering the options available.
I don't have a problem with anyone using whatever caliber they chose but I don't see any advantage hunting with the least amount of power on the market.
Caliber has nothing to do with marksmanship, You either 'have it',...or ya don't. Good to hear you know someone that has it, your bud must be a heck of a shot.
I would agree Alive IMO I have put 3 rounds into a squirrels head neck and heat and lungs
May 27 2012, 9:56 PM
and it still clung to life. I am almost cetian if they dont bleed out they can cling to life even if you double lung them. Not all do this but some just dont go down easy. Now I have seen a instant shot and the shakes or happy dance or death dance as some call it. The genrally drop and shake not jump all around.
I have chopped heads off a chickens and watched them run around. But if you catch a chiken off guard it will drop on the spot with a head shot. SO I dont see that a squirrel dancing around is like a chicken being slaughterd. Much different mind set to a off guard animal and one being thrown on a chopping black after his buddy just lost his head.
.....I would agree with all who think the animal is dead, dancing around on nerves and reflexes. The headless chicken is a clear example of this.
However I also believe that a severly wounded pest can still do the dance....and live.
I shot a squirrel right on my property line once, it danced through the fence and into a public area before it clearly stopped moving. I watched it motionless for 15 minutes before I deciced to hop the fence in an hour when it was dark. 60 minutes later the squrrel was gone. I figured it was a victim of a snatch and grab predator.
Death dance and motionless for an hour!!!!!
A week later I was in a bush pesting birds from the inside when I looked up to see that same squirrel with a hole in its head, staring down at me still breathing.
2 more point blank shots to the head before I was certain it was dead.
By the way, the first shot a week earlier was right between the ear and eye, a nice shot at 25 yards.
What did I learn? Take a second shot anyway.
As hunters what we all look for is a humane kill. This does not mean an immediate drop upon impact. I, too, am not so sure if this animal was brain dead upon impact. I've shot my fair share of tree squirrels as well and while they do the "dance" when head shot, they don't usually travel all that far.
However, if the brain was in fact dead, regardless of how much movement there was, the animal did not feel any pain. Is that not then, a humane kill?
If the shot passes through the X it destroys the animal's ability to think. If it hits the spinal cord as well, it destroys the animal's ability to move.
I've shot animals from behind, and if I hit them low in the brain case they may collapse and not even twitch. Have you seen this? A shot that only goes through the X does result in some kind of dance and for squirrels the minimal dance may be to fall over sideways and do hind-leg kicks. Rabbits may do back-flips in the same situation.
If you miss both the X and the spine the animal will be damaged and yet trying to escape. Finish them off ASAP.
Lower animals have higher levels of reflexive motor activity. That's part of the reason that they react faster than people... because we are too cerebral.
Example, when a person is struck on the patella (knee) with a little rubber hammer, his leg makes a simple twitches. A brain-dead cat struck on the thigh will do a complete cartwheel motion with that leg, as if he is clearing an obstacle while running. A brain-dead frog will send a hind leg up to its back to scrape off a chemical tab placed there.
In addition to summoning desired actions, the brain also inhibits unwanted reflex actions. Eliminate that inhibition (with a lead pellet) and all those reflexive neuronal circuits are left to fire at once.
We can all argue whether death means brain death or stoppage of the heart. The medical community is also somewhat divided. But it doesn't make much difference to the headless chicken or the brain-shot squirrel. There is no suffering happening in either case, regardless of how far the body goes. You need to have consciousness to suffer. And once the arterial blood pressure in the brain goes below a certain limit, or the brain follows the pellet out the exit hole in the skull, there is no consciousness left to suffer.
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