Do you want to know a few interesting facts about the species that cannot fly but are excellent gliders? Flying squirrel's range goes all the way from North America, the northern part of Eurasia, and to the few parts of tropical forests of India and other countries of Asia. There are about 50 different species of flying squirrel-like the northern flying squirrel, the southern flying squirrel, the eastern flying squirrel, the Japanese flying squirrel, and so on. Flying squirrels can be found in tall trees. Flying squirrels jump into the air from a high branch of one tree to the other tree converting the entire body into a gliding vehicle. Flying squirrels have long, lean legs and wide eyes. They have thick and smooth fur covering the skin and a tail longer than their body. Flying squirrels are predominantly nocturnal. They can build their nest in the higher portion of the tree. Interestingly, flying squirrels are found throughout much of the northern part of America which is also called northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus ). In North America, another form of the squirrel is found that is called the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans). The northern flying squirrel eats insects, nuts, and fruit seeds whereas a southern flying squirrel eats eggs. Northern flying squirrels are actually a rodent from North America that can glide in the air between the branches of trees using the skinfold between its ankle and wrist. The southern flying squirrels are extremely social mammals since they are found gliding together from one tree to the other. If you want to read more about the huge range of flying squirrels keep on reading.
The flying squirrel is a type of rodent within the order of Rodentia. The family of the flying squirrels is Sciuridae.
Flying squirrels belong to the class Mammalia, and also is a member of the family of Sciuridae.
There are more than 50 species of flying squirrel, falling under the family and subfamily of Sciuridae and Sciurinae respectively. However, the exact number of flying squirrels in the world is not known.
Flying squirrels have 50 different types of species. These different types of species live in different parts of the world. Out of this huge variation, three species live in North America. Two types of species of flying squirrels are also found in northern Eurasia. The southern flying squirrel is mostly noticed in the eastern parts of the United States. The northern flying squirrel is primarily found along the West Coast of the USA and in areas of Idaho and Montana. As for the rest of the species, they are mostly found scattered in the forests of India and a lot of other Asian countries.
The natural flying squirrel habitat is mostly the temperate and tropical forests of various countries. They generally live in woodlands and deciduous and coniferous forests. Most species of flying squirrels make their homes in tree cavities, and holes of woodpeckers. Some of them make nests that are abandoned by other birds and squirrels into their own home.
Flying squirrels are mostly solitary, but often they are seen nesting together, this keeps them warm in winter and helps them feel safer. Each flying squirrel nest can have about up to 10 individuals living in it.
Flying squirrels can live a healthy life up to 10 years in captivity. However, they are noticed to live way less in the wild.
The mating cycle is different between the species. For example, northern flying squirrels are found to have one mating cycle annually, whereas Japanese dwarf flying squirrels mate twice a year. The time of mating and birth varies from one species to another. A mother flying squirrel brings all the family members together to take care of the baby and give warmth. Young ones are born without hair and helpless. Variation is found in the weaning period as well. Some flying squirrels, like the southern flying squirrels, wean their young at two months while there are some who wean at four months.
Flying squirrels have stable populations, including the northern and southern flying squirrels of the central and northern regions of the United States. But there are certain endangered flying squirrel species. Northern flying squirrels are endangered in Pennsylvania. The International Union for Conservation of Nature states that the reason behind the decrease in population is mainly habitat loss due to the destruction of forests by logging and wood harvesting. Species like the Northern Chinese flying squirrel and Bhutan’s giant flying squirrel also face the threat of hunting and trapping. Another reason for this decreasing population can be the decline of fungi that they consume.
Flying squirrels are often compared with their grounded cousin. They are blessed with small rounded faces and fluffy tails that are as big as their body if not bigger. They have extremely prominent ears and large eyes that come in handy while navigating at night or running away from predators. Their body and tail are covered in fur markings whose color differs by species. They have a skinfold between their ankle and wrist that helps them glide.
Flying squirrels have features that make them look extremely cute. Their fluffy big tail and prominent ears make them look elegant. Flying squirrels are found to be extremely cute when they are gliding between the trees.
Flying squirrel's way of communicating is quite interesting. Northern flying squirrels and other types of species chirps softly and screeches when threatened. The flying squirrels connect with one another by fragrance. They have very good smelling and hearing sense which helps them communicate better.
Just like their other characteristics, the size of a flying squirrel also varies among the species. The northern flying squirrels whose body size range is from 10 in - 12 in (25.4 cm - 30.48 cm) are longer than the southern flying squirrels with a body length of 8 in - 10 in (20.32 cm - 25.4 cm). The smallest among the 50 different species is the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel with a body length of 2.8 in - 3.5 in (7.11 cm - 8.9 cm) and a tail length of 2.4 in - 4 in (6.09 cm - 10.16 cm). The longest flying squirrel is the red giant flying squirrel who is as long as 11 in – 1 ft 9.5 in ( 28.5 cm – 55 cm) body and 1 ft 1.5 in–2 ft 1 in (34 cm – 63 cm) tail which is almost twice the size of a rock squirrel.
Flying squirrels are known for covering impressive distances in the air. However, their exact speed is not known. They can glide up to 300 ft and make impressive 180 degree turns.
Just like their size, the body mass of flying squirrels also differs from one species to another. The northern flying squirrel, who is bigger than the southern ones, weighs about 4.93 oz or 140 g, whereas the southern flying squirrel weighs somewhere between 1.6 oz - 2.5 oz or 45 g - 82 g. The red giant flying squirrel weighs up to 34.92 oz - 112.87 oz or 990 g - 3200 g.
Similar to squirrels, the males are called boars while the females are called sows.
A newborn flying squirrel is called kits.
Just like other features, the flying squirrel's food habit also differs from one location to another. The northern flying squirrel residing in America mostly feeds on seeds, insects, fungi, and nuts. The southern flying squirrel has a more protein-based diet and feeds on carrion or eggs of birds. However, there are species of flying squirrel living in China and parts of Southeast Asia, such as the Indochinese flying squirrel whose diet consists mostly of fruits and nuts. Foraging at night is not a problem for them as their sense of smell is highly developed.
A lot of people misunderstand flying squirrels to be aggressive due to the presence of their sharp teeth. However, they are not aggressive species. They are not known to pose any health hazard. So they can not be called dangerous.
A flying squirrel adopted at a young age might be a good pet and adjust with humans but as an adult flying squirrel generally does not tend to make a good pet. However, there are many breeds that sell both adult and young flying squirrels. Buying a flying squirrel from breeders will cost around $150 to $200. The newborn flying squirrel pet needs extra care and effort to bond with and can be fed goat or puppy milk.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Among all the 50 different types of species of flying squirrels, only two of them can be called native to the New World.
The two types of American species of flying squirrel are widespread and quite common. But there are certain subspecies that are seen to be relatively rare. For example, the Carolina northern flying squirrel or San Bernardino flying squirrel found in Southern California are endangered and quite rare.
Flying squirrels have an interesting way to communicate with each other. They emit short high pitched chirps. However, the pitch and the duration of the chips can be different in different situations. It mostly depends on the mood and needs of the flying rodent. They sound and are generally not audible to human ears due to the high frequency. However, a flying squirrel chirping inside an attic or hollow voids can be heard. Their chirps can be compared to thud followed by scurrying.
The name flying squirrel might misguide people into thinking the species can fly, but in reality, they can only glide. In the forests of the United States, they glide up to 150 ft from one tree to the other. In the forests of Japan, they can glide at a range of 300 ft at a time.
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our flying squirrel coloring pages.