Smarty-Pants Squirrels Take On the Trickiest of Obstacle Courses

The squirrel ninjas triumph again. Mark Rober may be a former NASA and Apple engineer but the squirrels in his backyard are smarter than his obstacle course. After version 1.0 of the squirrel maze turned out to be too easy, he upgraded the squirrel obstacle course using inspiration from some classic heist movies. There’s a helicopter stunt and the famous wire scene from Mission Impossible. And a laser maze like in Entrapment. All leading to Fort Knuts, a cache of walnuts the squirrels desperately want. The video below shows the delightful journey the squirrels go on. It’s shocking to see how quickly they learn and adapt to puzzle after puzzle.

If YouTube videos weren’t his job and revenue stream, I’d be a bit worried about Mark Rober. He’s named the squirrels and assigned them jobs like they’re the Ocean’s 11 crew. He also adds blueprints, conspiracy walls, and even pictures of himself as the target of the heist to the houses he’s made the squirrels. But as things unfold, it’s clear they do have distinct personalities and skill sets. There’s Phat Gus the mastermind, Rick the acrobat, Marty the hacker, and Frank is in charge of logistics. 

A squirrel in a box made to look like a laser maze as part of a squirrel obstacle course
Mark Rober

The squirrels get through every obstacle after a few trials. Rober is careful to note the one-way exits along the way so that they can nope out at any point. Which they do every once in a while. He also explains, and shows in slow motion, how squirrels land safely on their feet with every fall or jump.

Rober is best known for his intricate glitter and fart bombs to punish package thieves. His YouTube channel also includes a playlist of fascinating builds from people who took his creative engineering class

A squirrel eating from a pile of walnuts outside a safe labeled Fort Knuts
Mark Rober

Perhaps the most astonishing part of the video is that his dog doesn’t seem to care about the squirrels leaping and falling all over its backyard. My dog would never allow such shenanigans.  

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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