Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flying Squirrels

Over the holiday break, my friend, John Howard, captured these wonderful photos of Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans. I just had to share them!

Southern Flying Squirrel is found throughout the Eastern United States. Though considered uncommon in Indiana and Ohio, they may be more plentiful than the data indicates. The species is nocturnal and usually is not out and about during the day. Mammals of Indiana, by Mumford and Whitaker, does not have them listed in Marion County, but my friend Dawn VanDeman has rehabilitated some Southern Flying Squirrels that were found in Indianapolis a few years ago.

Southern Flying Squirrels frequent mature woods with dead snags. They will also take over trees with woodpecker holes and natural cavities. They utilize multiple trees in the area to cache food and for dens or nests to hide and sleep. They line their nests with dried grasses and finely shredded bark. They have also been known to inhabit abandoned Fox Squirrel and Gray Squirrel nests. One source found a Southern Flying Squirrel occupying a bluebird box.

Photo from Wikipedia

Southern Flying Squirrels don't actually fly, as the name indicates, but glide from tree to tree. They leap into mid-air and extend flaps of skin on either side of the body called a patagium. The patagium extends from the wrists and ankles of the squirrel and acts like a parachute. The direction and speed can be controlled by the squirrel positioning its legs. In one of the sources I read, the author had seen one glide from the top of one tree to another that was 90 feet away!

Look at that face! Those eyes aren't just for cute points. Since they are nocturnal, the large sized eyes are essential for capturing available light so they can see in the dark. The long whiskers help them sense the edges of cracks and crevices while they are scurrying about, as well as juicy moths and beetles they readily snatch up. Southern Flying Squirrels eat mostly nuts, seeds, ripe berries, insects, eggs and fungi. They are also known to gnaw the bark of maple trees and drink the sap. Yet, these little munch monsters with their ravenous appetites weigh less than 3 ounces! Hmmm... eats a lot, yet weighs 3 ounces...maybe some of us should consult the Southern Flying Squirrel about our New Years resolutions. Look for The Flying Squirrel Diet at a bookstore near you! ;)

Thanks, John, for once again sharing your wonderful photos!StumbleUpon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jan. 20, I live in upstate NY. I was reaching into my grain bin (55 gallon drum) and in the scoop was a little furry ball. As I lifted the scoop the little guy unraveled from his sleep. I put him in another bucket so I could have my husband identify him. It was a southern flying squirrel. TOO COOL! It was so cute. I took it back to where I found him and released him. I've never seen such a cute animal.