Flying Squirrel Paw Print

 

Flying Squirrel:

Compared to Gray and Fox Squirrels, Flying Squirrels are little guys sort of like chipmunks. Southern flying squirrels are quite small. Adults usually are 9-10 inches long including the tail, and they weigh between 2-4 ounces. Their coloring is grayish to brownish on the back, black around the flying membrane border, and white on their belly. The flying membrane is a loose fold of skin that extends from the outside of the wrist on the front leg, to the ankle on the back leg, on both sides (see bottom picture). They have large, black eyes, a short nose, broad flat tail and prominent ears. Their lifespan is around 5 to 6 years in the wild.

Flying Squirrels don't "fly" like birds, rather they "glide" through the air, usually from some high perch to another tree or the ground. They can control their glide to maneuver around branches and other obstacles, landing softly on their target.  They can glide as far as 250 feet.   They are clean and sociable animals (except when Mom has a litter of babies to protect), and are active throughout the year, though they may stay in their nests for a few days at a time during extreme cold. They are nocturnal and forage throughout the night. We humans rarely see them, but on a quiet night in the woods, we may hear them chirping and gliding through the trees.

Adult Flying Squirrel

   

Food Preferences:

Primarily vegans, they prefer hickory nuts and acorns, seeds, corn, fruits, berries, mushrooms, maple tree blossoms and peanut butter. Moths, beetles and other insects and larvae are also consumed, and if available, some meat from animal carcasses.

Adult Flying Squirrels

   

Geographic Range:

South of Maine throughout the East and South - mostly east of the Great Plains states and also in forested areas in throughout Mexico.

   

Enemies:

Pet cats, bobcats, raccoons, owls, hawks, some tree-climbing snakes, mites, fleas. They are fragile and have been known to die of shock after capture.

Baby Flying Squirrels

   

Value to Nature:

Feeding on tree buds may help stimulate tree growth. Flying Squirrels eat wood-eating insects, and dropped nuts and seeds help regenerate the forests.

A Flying Squirrel "Flying"