Interesting Facts About Flying Squirrels: They Don’t Hibernate

The flying squirrel is a medium-sized rodent. This type of squirrel is best known for its ability to “fly”. Flying squirrels are closely related to the squirrels living in grasslands and woodlands around the world. There are nearly fifty different species of flying squirrels in the family Sciuridae.
Anatomically, the flying squirrels are quite similar to other squirrels. However, they’ve some distinct adaptations to suit their lifestyle and behavior; their distal vertebrae, hand and foot bones are shorter, and their limb bones are longer. Flying squirrels tend to be slightly bigger than the common squirrels.
Flying squirrels aren’t endangered. They can live in the coniferous, deciduous or mixed type of forest. Best known are North American and South American flying squirrels that inhabit south and north part of Canada and America.
They can’t fly in the same way as bats or birds. However, they can glide from one tree to another with the help of a patagium, a furry, parachute-like membrane, which stretches from ankle to wrist. Flying squirrels can steer and exert total control over their glide path with their tail and limbs. They have a long tail that provides stability in flight.
Here are some interesting facts about flying squirrels:
1. Flying squirrel usually weighs between 4 and 6.5 ounces and reaches 12 inches in length (including the tail).
2. The fur on the sides and backs of flying squirrels is brown to grey and white on the belly. In fact, males and females look alike. The tail is flattened and large. They use it as a rudder when gliding through the air.
3. A special type of furry membrane (known as patagia), stretched between flying squirrels’ ankles and wrists, serves as a parachute that supports them while jumping from one tree to another. Therefore, while they’re known as “flying squirrels,” they don’t fly – they glide through the air.
4. The longest recorded “flight” of flying squirrels was 300 feet, but they usually glide between 20 and 30 feet. Besides, they can make 180-degree turns during gliding.
5. When flying squirrels land on a tree, they climb as high as possible to prepare for another jump. Their thick paws serve as a cushion for landing.
6. Flying squirrels have large, bulging eyes that help them see in the dark since they’re nocturnal (active at night) creatures.
7. Flying squirrels eat different types of food: snails, slugs, mice, small birds, eggs, mushroom, seed, berries, tree bark, nuts, flowers, etc. They’re omnivores (eat both vegetation and meat).
8. Other squirrels break the entire nutshell to release the hidden meat. On the other hand, flying squirrels make a hole in the nutshell to reach the meat inside it.
9. Flying squirrels can collect up 15,000 nuts in one season. Since the food is scarce during winter, these squirrels survive mostly by eating food they collected during the previous year. Although flying squirrels don’t hibernate, they reduce their activity during winter.
10. Their main predators are coyotes, raccoons, owls, snakes, foxes, birds, dogs and cats.
11. Flying squirrels conserve their energy through life in the community. They’re highly social animals. A large group of squirrels can share one hole. They live in the holes in trees, like those made by a woodpecker.
12. They may share their dens with other animals such as screech owls and bats.
13. The gestation period lasts forty days and female gives birth to two to seven babies. Mating takes place early in the spring and sometimes late in the summer. Flying squirrels usually produce one litter every year.
14. The toes of the babies are fused, and the ears are closed. Toes will separate from each other after six days. Ears will open after two to six days. Babies are also blind and hairless. Fur begins to grow after seven days and their eyes open after three to four weeks.
15. The average lifespan of a flying squirrel in the captivity is between 10 and 15 years and between 4 and 5 years in the wild.

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