Monday, January 3, 2011

Southern Flying Squirrel

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 so much, John, for sharing your photos!

StumbleUpon

10 comments:

nina said...

I wish I had a patagium.

Janet Creamer said...

Wouldn't that be fun, Nina? Of course I wouldn't get anything done all day...

Anonymous said...

Found one in Lima Ohio eating our woodpecker suet.

smnieten said...

My husband & I just saw a flying squirrel gliding through the trees for the first time while camping last night in Hoosier National Forest...an experience we instantly cherished! We were not as fortunate to take home pictures as incredible as the ones here on your blog. The night only allowed us a few dark photos, save the spotlight from our flashlight featuring a tiny brown & white blur of a blob. :)

Anonymous said...

I saw one camping at Hoosier National Forest also while camping on Saturday September 8. Heard something while I was getting my late start for fire wood a little after 10:00 and found one maneuvering around the tree within a foot of my face. It was an incredible 20 seconds or so. First time ever seeing one. I have seen an Australian sugar glider as a pet before but that was it. -Cheers

Anonymous said...

I saw a flying squirrel outside of my house last night. I was walking towards my door and I startled it as it walked on our driveway. It quickly climbed up the brick wall and tried to hide in the corner of the wall. I got a great look at his huge eyes and the flaps of skin between his legs. I didn't know we had them here in Indianaplis! My sixth grade science teacher had one as a pet in our classroom.

Anonymous said...

we actually have flying squirrels living in the walls of our house! we set food out for them and im trying to create a sanctuary for them! and info or help on this is welcome!

thumbelina9987@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Southern Flying Squirrel spotted on one of our bird feeders this evening in the City of Lawrence in Marion County

Anonymous said...

The people I care for in Richmond In. have one in their backyard.
He is fast as lightening and fun to watch. They have a squirrel toy that holds an ear of corn for the squirrels...one day I spotted an animal I'd never seen and kept watching him for a long time. He came to visit them in the morning and then again at night. Very amuzing.

Anonymous said...

I live in northern Indiana and have a colony in my back yard. I try and feed them every night. They love shelled peanuts and peanut butter.