How many squirrels does it take to make a horse?

More accurately, how many squirrel power equals one horsepower?

People often joke about having a squirrel in their engine (usually with small cars) so I’m curious how much power a squirrel can put out.

(Sigh… I saw the topic and thought this would be about breeding “mules” with a squirrel instead of an ass.)

See, I had something more gruesome in mind, like say you had a bunch of squirrels, and you wanted to somehow biologically dissasemble them, ya know, for spare parts, and how many would you need to construct a franken-horse?
(Random-ass answers in no part based on scientic fact)
To the OP’s question: about 1000 squirrels
To cellophane’s question: Just one. A very lucky–er, a very something–squirell.
To my own question: about 1000 squirrels.

Four hundred squirrels can be substituted for one horse in most recipes, but you’ll want to reduce the salt by half.

Horsepower was defined by James Watt in an attempt to quantify what his steam engine could accomplish. He arrived at one horsepower = 550 ft # s[sup]-1[/sup]. Probably through some arbitrary assumptions. I think his original example considered the case of a horse pulling a load of coal out of a mineshaft - something that would allow him to quantify work done.

So you’ve got a value for horsepower; what you need is the heretofore (as far as I can tell) never quantified value for one squirrelpower. After that is described, the math is simple.

KellyM, this could be your shot at the history books. Since horses were in commercial use when Watt was doing his calculations, observations were not hard to come by; in contrast, common use of squirrels in human endeavors has been primarily related to culinary efforts or, perhaps garment related doings.

So, you’ll have to design the method by which squirrelpower can be measured. Hauling X pounds of nuts up Y distance of vertical tree trunk in S seconds is the first measurement that leaps to mind.

Whoa. (sorry)
Work is force X distance, which has to be horizontal, does it not?

Yeah, you have to factor in the vertical incline somehow. Also, There is no pulley system for the squirrel.

Little Nemo, that was wicked funny.

My rats, which are, after all, just small squirrels without tails, can lift about half a pound and push a two pound box of rat food off the top of their cage. My rats are all girls and weigh between 12 and 15 ounces, just for comparison’s sake.

Based on that, my SWAG is 550, assuming that squirrels weigh about two pounds and can also lift about half their body weight.


Two pound squirrels? Where are you? Texas?

The grey squirrels we have in this area, a 1.5 squirrel would be huge and I would say 1 lb would be a good average.

We must be importing Texas squirrels or something…I have rats, which are I’d wager about half the size of a squirrel, and they run about 12 oz to a pound, depending on the rat. I have girl rats, which are smaller. Squirrels may look teensy, and you’re allowing for that tail, but I still think they weigh about two pounds.

I think just weighing a squirrel might be plenty of fun, though, so I’m willing to say 1100 pounds of squirrels, flat off, whatever number that might be.


Well, if you scaled down a horse to be squirrel-sized, you’d be somewhat closer than a total WAG… even though squirrels and horses are put together quite differently.
Horse weight: 450kg (990lbs)
Squirrel weight: 0.65kg (1.43lbs)

Horse WT/Squirrel WT = ~692.31
(horse is about 692X as heavy as squirrel)

To get length ratio, take cubed root of weight ratio:
692.31^1/3 = ~8.85 times as “long”
(need length for the next part)

Strength is proportional to length squared:
8.85^2 = ~78.32
(full-sized horse is 78.32 times as strong as squirrel-sized horse)
Meaning for example if a full-sized horse can walk around with a 200lb person on their back, a 1.4lb horse should be able to walk around with a 2.55lb thing on it’s back - which isn’t too far off from Corrvin’s estimates (what the little rats could carry should be somewhere between what they can lift and push).
We all know little things are proportionally much stronger than big things… look at ants and elephants: ants can pick up objects at least 50X their own weight, an elephant’s legs would collapse if you piled even one more elephant on it’s back. Therefore, a squirrel would have a lot more “power per ounce” than a horse, so I’ll base my way-different guess on that:
I say 1HP = no more than 100 SQP
Yes, the scaling thing doesn’t work well with differently shaped animals, and it depends what type of strength you measure, but my numbers came up so different from everyone else’s that I’ll leave it to someone else to show where I’ve messed up. (Hope I din’t make an obvious huge mistake)
Once more: 1HP = 100 SQP at most.

Rock the Mike cuz the mike rocks. well done :slight_smile:

So, I saw a squirrel on TV push a cereal box. It took him about a second to push it a foot. Assuming that this was serious for him, going as fast as he could, and the cereal box was 16 oz, we have:

1 Ft-Lb/sec = 1 SQP, or:

1 sp /1 HP = 1 Ft-Lb/sec/550 Ft=Lb/sec

or 1 SP = 1/550 HP.

So, 550 squirrels - 1 horse.

Ah, some empirical data. So to replace your 100 H.P. engine will require 55,000 squrrels.

I wonder how many nuts per mile you’d get.

Based on some of the stuff I been reading here this morning, I’d say the Straight Dope has a greater ratio than any squirrel-powered engine.


It depends on how many squirrels need to hide inside the horse, while it is wheeled into the city, by the unsuspecting Squirrel Trojans.


“The road to truth is long, and lined the entire way with annoying bastards.” ~ Alexander Jablokov ~

Obviously, we’re not going to run a car with these guys.

We need something a bit more practical.

750 Watts/HP X 1 HP/550 SP = 1.34 Watts per squirrel.

The laptop power supply is 19V @ 2.64 A, or 50.16 W, or 36.78, well, 37 squirrels. How do I get them onto the airplane? Carry on?

So a buzzard boards an airplane with 37 dead squirrels…

I think you’ll need more than 37 squirrels. You have to make allowances for squirrels who are sleeping, eating nuts or goofing off instead of running on their teeny-tiny little electric generator wheels like they’re supposed to. Tree hugging little slackers . . .

I bet a lot of mimes choke to death because everyone thinks it is just one of those lame mime routines.