Flying squirrels are wonderful creatures that are known for their intelligence, companionship, and gliding flight.
Where Are Flying Squirrels Found? Flying squirrels are found in different regions of the world as 300 to 400 species are distributed mainly in three continents, North America, Asia, and Africa. Moreover, the northern and southern American squirrels are common in America and present in the tropical and subtropical forests providing suitable habitat and plenty of food resources. Furthermore, they prefer to eat seeds, fungi, insects, eggs, and even small animals.
Many people have seen ground squirrels, but a few have observed the gliding squirrels, raising curiosity about their location.
Why are flying squirrels called flying squirrels?
The name flying squirrels can be confusing as it indicates that they can fly in the air, but this is not true as they can only glide in the air after jumping from a tall tree.
Moreover, their bodies are designed to favor gliding motion and allow them to reach the ground safely.
The trees are used as launching pads from where they jump downwards to reach the ground. They push their bodies while standing on the upper branches of the tree and the trunk.
They move their limbs in an outward direction after pushing themselves downwards. Their body attains a fan shape and sails in the air when the skin connecting their limbs stretches outwards.
In addition, they can get back to their normal body shape by reducing the stretch in limbs when they are about to land to get a better grip on their feet.
Furthermore, they can land on another tree trunk or branches present at a distance of 300 to 400 feet away from the launching tree.
Additionally, these flying furry animals are considered superheroes of the squirrel world due to their extraordinary gliding movement, making them different from others.
Where are flying squirrels present?
Flying squirrels have more than 45 species distributed worldwide in different regions where they find suitable habitats to live and reproduce.
Moreover, almost three species live in North America, particularly in Canada and Alaska. Two of their species are distributed in Northern Eurasia, including the Siberian flying squirrel.
The remaining species are widely present in regions like Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico, etc., with temperate and tropical forests.
Furthermore, the species native to North America are small and look beautiful, and they prefer to live in the forests and shrubby trees, providing suitable spots for nesting.
How does a flying squirrel look like?
It looks similar to the other species of squirrel, but it has a few extraordinary features that help in gliding high in the air.
The body weight of a Northern Flying squirrel is almost 2 to 5 pounds, while a Southern flying squirrel weighs almost 1.5 to 2.5 pounds.
The body weight can also vary depending on their diet and type of activities, as active animals have lower body weight.
In addition, their body length is around 10 to 25 inches, while their tails are longer in size and are almost 15 to 24 inches long.
However, the furry animals living in Peninsula and Borneo are 3 to 3.5 inches long. They appear slender in shape with bushy tails that appear flattened or cylindrical.
The gliding animals have larger eyes that help them see correctly at night and longer limbs for attaining gliding positions. Moreover, their fur is dense, soft, or silky in texture, giving a wooly look.
Furthermore, grey-brown fur is present on their back bodies and side regions while they appear white in underparts. The northern flying squirrels have a darker appearance than the southern ones as they look more reddish.
They have to loose skin folded between their limbs, allowing them to glide in the air as the stretched skin provides better resistance against air pressure and keeps them in the air for a long duration.
What type of habitat do flying squirrels prefer to live in?
They prefer to live in a location having dense forests and conifer or deciduous trees. Moreover, they try to choose a place providing plenty of food to ensure their survival.
They make their homes in woodlands and choose hollow trees and build their nests inside cavities.
In addition, you can find them resting at a junction point in trees where the two branches are joining together with a trunk.
They collect leaves to make their nests soft and cozy for better living and collect shredded barks to add firmness to their nests. The mosses and lichens can also be used for building a base for their nest.
Those living in the trees would not prefer to leave the nests, but Northern flying squirrels occasionally come back to the ground to grab the nuts and bury them in the soil.
They choose a habitat and build nests after searching for ample resources to get food.
Moreover, they can quickly migrate to other regions when they suffer from insufficient food in their territory and look for fruit trees as they consume seeds and fruits or even flower buds.
You can find them roaming in the woodlands like their flightless relatives and thriving on the food resources.
All of them need trees even if they eat different food types because they only move from one tree to another and avoid walking on the ground, as their clumsy nature makes them prone to death.
Are flying squirrels dangerous to keep as pets?
It is better to consider the nature of animals before taking them home as pets. For example, squirrels are known for their aggressive nature and destructive behavior that can hurt you.
Moreover, gliding squirrels are known to chew almost everything that can become a pest to your house.
They can take control of the residence and damage the walls, ground, and complete attic with their urine as it smells bad.
Additionally, these are nocturnal animals, unlike other species, and prefer to get involved in activities at night and make your sleep uncomfortable by creating loud noises.
They can also spread diseases to humans whenever these furry animals directly contact them.
Many people catch these animals and sell them as pets, but they are unsafe for humans as they suffer from discomfort being present inside a cage.
Before bringing these gliding animals to your house, it is better to know that they are good chewers and chew almost everything using their sharp teeth.
They have specific requirements and need care as you have to provide a large space. For example, it needs to be tall enough to glide in the cage.
What does a flying squirrel eat?
They need a healthy diet that keeps their bodies lighter as it has to perform activities like gliding. Therefore, they prefer to eat seeds and fruits and live around the fruit trees.
Moreover, they build nests in moist places as they consume fungi that are only present in wet areas. Different types of insects, spiders, small birds, and animals are also part of their diet.
In addition, they eat tree sap, nuts, eggs, and even poisonous snakes. Some of the gliding squirrels prefer to consume invertebrates and eggs in addition to lichens and flower buds.