'Lucky' Raccoon Survives 9-Story Leap from Building

Did word get out that raccoons scaling buildings is a "thing?" Seems that way. This past June, a raccoon made Earthlings swoon when the masked daredevil scaled 23 stories up a vertical concrete wall in St. Paul, Minnesota, all the way to the safety of the roof. Now, perhaps a copy-coon, has attempted a similar feat, but wasn't so lucky — or, from another perspective, was luckier.

The raccoon was spotted climbing up an apartment building in Ocean City, New Jersey (OCNJ), according to Fox 29 news. Once the agile mammal scaled up maybe nine stories, it seems to change its mind about the adventure. The raccoon turns around and sort of leaps from the building — and not in the superhero kind of way. Its body twists and flails during the horrifying fall to the ground, where the raccoon slams into the sandy-gravely surface, back-first.

The scrappy mammal scrambles itself upright and scampers away … unscathed. Raccoons are known for their clever antics and agility — they can dig their sharp, nonretractable nails into surfaces like trees, or concrete, and they can rotate their limbs 180 degrees to climb down vertical surfaces with ease, Live Science previously reported.  

One of the several bystanders on the OCNJ boardwalk who captured video of the feat, Micah Rea of South Carolina, wrote on YouTube, "This raccoon was on a wall on a condominium in Ocean City, NJ and jumped from the 9th floor and landed on the ground miraculously with no injury!"

Yes, perhaps miraculous, as surviving such a titanic tumble is not on a raccoon's skills' list. [The 5 Smartest Non-Primates on the Planet]

"Actually, I am quite surprised to learn that the raccoon could have fallen from such a height and not be hurt," Sam Zeveloff, a zoologist at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, told Live Science. "There is nothing in the literature that I'm aware of suggesting that they can fall unscathed from such heights. They should be able to drop from a tree with a few bumps and bruises, but to do so from the building seems odd."

 Zeveloff added, "Lucky raccoon."

The soft surface it landed on probably helped to break the fall. "It was also fortunate to have landed on what appeared to be a soft sandy surface," Zeveloff said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.