Fort Knutz – Squirrels Go All Mission Impossible

Backyard with a squirrel maze

[Mark Rober] has a bird feeder in his back yard. Also, squirrels who eat the seed. So, as one does, he built a nine part squirrel obstacle course with a reward of walnuts at the end, and filmed them beating the course.

(Spoiler – this is all much better in the video, which we’ve placed below the break).

His four backyard squirrels enter a ‘Casino’ and avoid the plushie ‘security’.  From there it’s across a rod mounted on bearings, leap into a crate under a helicopter, which zip-lines to a brick wall with randomly moving bricks, and into their hideout.

A squirrel at a model buffet in a casino
Security is about to get him.

The hideout elevator shaft leads to a sewer, which leads to the famous room from Mission Impossible where [Tom Cruise] has to avoid the floor, but to get to the hatch in the top they have to lower a ladder by ‘hacking into’ the control system (by pushing a keyboard shaped button) and lowering a rope ladder.

Next they go through a tube maze to a room full of laser beams (3D printer filament) and finally they can jump onto the platform with Fort Knutz. If they get the vault door open, they’re rewarded with a shower of walnuts.

Yes, this is completely bonkers.

It’s a fantastic build, mostly done with pneumatic actuators.  It’s beautiful craftsmanship in places. The obstacles are well proportioned and pleasing to the eye. He’s applied principles of cuteness. It’s also squirrel safe. For example, every enclosed space has an easy one way emergency exit. And the video is a wonderful bit of film making.  There’s adorable characters, a plot, and ultimately an engaging story about conflict turned to a relationship of fun and giving.

This is a rebuild of his earlier squirrel maze, the Ninja Warrior Course.

We write about animal hacks occasionally. From toilet training cows  to Virtual Hamster Vacations.




21 thoughts on “Fort Knutz – Squirrels Go All Mission Impossible

  1. Two squirrels had minimal problems with the roof maze. One got on the roof and examined the whole maze from the outside. Then when he entered it, he went through it without error. The 4th squirrel could not find its way through until the one that took an exterior look first coached it from outside the tubes. So one extra intelligent squirrel, two average, and one dunce.

    1. The computer monitor and keyboard near the escape tower was worth it.

      I need to interact with my squirrels that live under the roof outside. They are on 3 camerae and stereo sound pickup but I need to put up a small monitor up there so they can watch Backyard Adventures and this channel. Hawk and eagle warning system for them is another need to do, even saw a bald eagle check out the yard last week.

    1. Wait a sec, we used to hang out in trees and eat food off the nearest branch, now we’re all in little concrete boxes doing weird complex tasks for food and they’re up in the trees…

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